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On January 1st, 1852, vol. 2 of 

CHINA, IN 1844-5-6. 

Translated from the French by W. Hazlitt. 


A Narrative of the Discoveries of Mr. Layard and M. Botta at Nimroud and 
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early History of the Ancient Ninevite Kingdom. By Joseph Bonomi. Illustrated 
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227 STEAND. 







VOL. I. 



227 STRAND. 





The Pope having, about the year 1844, been pleased to esta- 
blish an Apostolic Vicariat of Mongolia, it was considereil 
expedient, with a view to further operations, to ascertain the 
nature and extent of the diocese thus created, and MM. Gabet 
and Hue, two Lazarists attached to the petty mission of 
Si-Wang, were accordingly deputed to collect the neces- 
sary information. They made their way through difficul- 
ties which nothing but relictions enthusiasm in combination 

o o 

with French elasticity could have overcome, to Lha-Ssa, the 
capital of Thibet, and in this seat of Lamanism were becoming 
comfortably settled, with lively hopes and expectations of 
converting the Talé-Lama into a branch-Pope, when the 
Chinese Minister, the noted Ke-Shen, interposed on political 
grounds, and had them deported to China. M. Gabet was 
directed by his superiors to proceed to France, and lay a com- 
plaint before his Government, of the arbitrary treatment 
which he and his fellow Missionary had experienced. In the 
steamer which conveyed him from Hong Kong to Ceylon, he 
found Mr. Alexander Johnstone, secretary to Her Majesty's 


Pleuipotentiaiy in China; and this gentleman perceived so 
much, not merely of entertainment, but of important informa- 
tion in tlie conversations he had with M. G abet, that he com- 
mitted to paper the leading features of the Reverend Mis- 
sionary's statements, and on his return to his official post, gave 
his manuscripts to Sir John Davis, who, in his turn, considered 
their contents so interesting, that he embodied a copy of them 
in a dispatch to Lord Palmerston. Subsequently the two 
volumes, here translated, were prepared by M. Hue, and pub- 
lished in Paris. Thus it is, that to Papal aggression in the 
East, the Western World is indebted for a work exhibiting, 
for the first time, a complete representation of countries 
previously almost unknown to Europeans, and indeed con- 
sidered practically inaccessible ; and of a religion, which, 
followed by no fewer than 170,000,000 persons, presents the 
most singular analogies in its leading features with the 
Catholicism of Eome. 



Contents . iii 

List of Illustrations . . , vii 


French Mission of Peking — Glance at the Kingdom of Ouniot — Preparations 
for Departure — Tartar-Chinese Inn — Change of Costume — Portrait and 
Character of Samdadchiemba — Sain-Oula (the Good Mountain) — The 
Frosts on Saiu-Oula, and its Robbers — First Encampment in the 
Desert — Great Imperial Forest — Buddhist Monuments on the summit 
of the Mountains — Topography of the Kingdom of Gechekten — Character 
of its Inhabitants — Tragical working of a Mine — Two Mongols desire 
to have their horoscope taken — Adventure of Samdadchiemba — En- 
virons of the town of Tolon-Noor 


Inn at Tolon-Noor — Aspect of the City — Great Foundries of Bells and 
Idols — Conversation with the Lamas of Tolon-Noor — Encampment — 
Tea Bricks — Meeting with Queen Mourguevan — Taste of the Mongols 
for Pilgrimages — Violent Storm — Account from a Mongol Chief of the 
War of the English against China — Topography of the Eight Banners 
of the Tchakar — The Imperial Herds — Fonn and Interior of the Tents 
— Tartar Manners and Customs — Encampment at the Three Lakes — 
Nocturnal Apparitions — Samdadchiemba relates the Adventures of his 
Youth — Grey Squirrels of Tartary — Arrival at Chaborté 33 




Festival of the Loaves of the Moon — Entertainment in a Mongol Tent — 
Toolholos, or Rhapsodists of Tartary — Invocation to Timour — Tartar 
Education — Industry of the Women — Mongols in quest of missing 
Animals — Remains of an abandoned City — Road from Peking to 
Kiaktha — Commerce between China and Russia — Russian Convent at 
Peking — A Tartar solicits us to cure his Mother from a dangerous 
Illness — Tartar Physicians — The Intermittent Fever Devil — Various 
forms of Sepulture in use among the Mongols — Lamasery of the Five 
Towers — Obsequies of the Tartar Kings — Origin of the kingdom of 
Efe — Gymnastic Exercises of the Tartars — Encounter with three 
Wolves — Mongol Carts . (;l 


Young Lama converted to Christianity — Lamasery of Tchortchi — Alms for 
the Construction of Religious Houses — Aspect of the Buddhist Temples 
— Recitation of Lama Prayers — Decorations, Paintings, and Sculptures 
of the Buddhist Temples — Topography of the Great Kouren in the 
country of the Khalkhas — Journey of the Guison-Tamba to Peking — 
The Kouren of the Thousand Lamas — Suit between the Lama- King and 
his Ministers — Purchase of a Kid — Eagles of Tartaiy — Western 
Toumet — Agricultural Tartars— Arrival at the Blue Town — Glance at 
the Mantchou Nation — Mantchou Literature — State of Christianity in 
Mantchouria — Topography and producrtions of Eastern Tartary — Skill 
of the Mantchous with the Bow ^ô 


i'he Old Blue Town — Quarter of the Tanners— Knavery of the Chinese 
Traders— Hotel of the Three Perfections— Spoliation of the Tartars by 
the Chinese — Money Changer's Office — Tartar Coiner — Purchase of 
two Sheep-skin Robes — Camel Market — Customs of the Cameleers — 
Assassination of a Grand Lama of the Blue Town — Insurrection of the 
Lamaseries — Négociation b- tween the Court of Peking and that of 
Lha-Ssa — Domestic Lamas — Wandering Lamas — Lamas in Community 
— Policy of the Mantchou Dynasty with reference to the Lamaseries — 
Interview with a Thibetian Lama — Departure from the Blue Town . 1 ( 19 


A Tartar-cater— Loss of Arsala.i — Great Caravan of Camels — Night Arn- 
val at Tchagan-Kouren— We are refused Admission into the Inns — We 
take up our abode with a Sheoherd — Oveiflow of the YeJlow River — 



Aspect of Tchagan-Konren— Departure across the Marshes— Hiring a 
Bark — Arrival on the Banks of the Yellow River — Encampment under 
the Portico of a Pagoda— Embarkation of the Camels— Passage of the 
Yellow River — Laborious Journey across the Inundated Country — 
Encampment on the Banks of the River . . J-iS 


Mercurial Preparation for the Destruction of Lice — Dirtiness of the Mongols 
— Lama Notions about the Metempsychosis — Washing — Regulations of 
Nomadic Life — Aquatic and Passage Birds — The Yuen-Yang — The 
Dragon's Foot — Fishermen of the Paga-Gol — Fishing Party — Fisherman 
Bit by a Dog— Kou-Kouo, or St. Ignatius's Bean— Preparations for 
Departure — Passage of the Paga-Gol — Dangers of the Voyage — Devo- 
tion of Samdadchiemba — The Prime Minister of the King of the 
Ortous — Encampment 147 


Glance at the Country of the Ortous — Cultivated Lan is— Sterile, sandy 
steppes of the Ortous— Foito of the Tartar-Mongol Government — 
Nobility— Slavery— A small Lamasery— Election and Enthronization 
of a Living Buddha— Discipline of the Lamaseries — Lama Studies — 
Violent Storm— Shelter in some Artificial Grottoes— Tartar concealed 
in a Cavern — Tartaro-Chinese Anecdote — Ceremonies of Tartar Mar- 
riages — Polygamy — Divorce — Character and Costume of the Mongol 
Women l(j.> 


Departure of the Caravan — Encampment in a fertile Valley — Intensity of 
the Cold — Meeting with numerous Pilgrims — Barbarous and Diabolical 
Ceremonies of Lamanism — Project for the Lamasery of Rache-Tchurin 
— Dispersion and rallying of the little Caravan — Anger of Samdad- 
chiemba — Aspect of the Lamasery of Rache-Tchurin — Different Kinds of 
Pilgrimages around the Lamaseries — Turning Prayers — Quarrel between 
two Lamas — Similarity of the Soil — Description of the Tabsoun-Noor 
or Salt Sea — Remarks on the Camels of Tartary i88 


Purchase of a Sheep — A Mongol Butcher — Great Feast à la Tartare — 
Tartar Veterinary Surgeons — Strange Cure of a Cow — Depth of the 
Wells of the Ortous — Manner of Watering the Animals — Encampment 



at the Hundred Wells — Meeting with the King of the Alechan — Annual 
Embassies of the Tartar Sovereigns to Peking — Grand Ceremony in the 
Temple of the Ancestors — The Emperor gives Counterfeit Money to the 
Mongol Kings — Inspection of our Geogi'aphical Map — The Devil's 
Cistern — Purification of the Water — A Lame Dog — Curious Aspect of 
the Mountains — Passage of the Yellow Eiver 210 

Sketch of the Tartar Nations 237 


Hotel of Justice and Mercy — Province of Kan-Sou — Agriculture — Great 
Works for the Irrigation of the Fields — Manner of Living in Inns 
— Great Confusion in a Town caused by our Camels — Chinese Life- 
guard — Mandarin Inspector of the Public Works — Ning-Hia — His- 
torical and Topographical Details — Inn of the Five Felicities — Contest 
with a Mandarin, Tchong-Wei — Immense Mountains of Sand — Road 
to Ih — Unfavourable aspect of Kao-Tan-Dze — Glance at the Great 
Wall — Inquiry after the Passports — Tartars travelling in China — 
Dreadful Hurricane — Origin and Manners of the Inhabitants of Kan- 
Sou — The Dchiahours — Interview with a Living Buddha — Hotel of the 
Temperate Climates — Family of Samdadchiemba — Mountain of Ping- 
Keou — Fight between an Innkeeper and his Wife — Water-mills — 
Knitting — Si-Ning-Fou — House of Rest — Arrival at Tang-Keou-Eul 262 




Froutispiece, Chinese and Tartar Costumes. 
Title-page, Portraits of MM. Gabet and Hue. 

View of the City of Peking i) 

Initial Letter T 9 

The Travellers setting out on their Journey . . . * 15 

Kang of a Tartar-Chinese Inn 17 

The Missionaries in their Lamanesque Costumes 19 

Portrait of Samdadchiemba 20 

Mountain of Sain-Oula 21 

First Encampment 23 

Buddhist Monumt-nts . , 25 

Militai7 Mandarin 28 

Chinese Idol 32 

View of the City of Tolon-Xoor 33 

Bell and Idol Foundry 36 

The Queen of Mourguevan 40 

The Emperor Tao-Kouang 44 

Tartar Encampment 4.8 

Interior of a Tartar Tent 50 

Eussian Convent at Peking 61 

Lamasery of the Five Towers 79 

Lamasery of Tchortchi 85 

Buddhist Tem.ple 87 

Interior of Buddhist Temple 89 

Tartar Agriculturist 98 

Chinese Soldier 100 

Chinese Money-changers 109 

The Camel Market 121 



Vagabond Lamas 124 

View of Tchagan-Koiiren 128 

Caravan crossing the Desert 132 

Navigation of the Yellow River 139 

Camel of Tartarj 146 

Water-fowl and Birds of Passage 147 

A Fishing Party iô5 

Election of a Living Buddha 165 

The Steppes of Ortous 168 

Caves of the Ortous ...» 180 

Barbarous Lamanesque Ceremony 188 

Lamasery of Rache-Tchurin 201 

Turning Prayers 203 

Mongol Butcher 210 

Encampment at the ILandred Wells 222 

Grand Ceremony at the Ancestral Temple 227 

Chinese Idol 23C 

Chinese and Tartar Arms 2;?7 

Chinese Princess '253 

Chinese Caricature 261 

Irrigation of the Fields 262 

Pvoot of the J n-Seng 293 



^' i/i^^iM"' 


French Mission of Peking — Glance at the Kingdom of Ouniot — Preparations for 
Departure— Tartai'-Chinese Inn— Change of Costume— Portrait and Character 
of Samdadchiemba — Sain-Oula (the Good Mountain) — The Frosts on Sain- 
Oula, and its Robbers— First Encampment in the Desert— Great Imperial 
Forest — Buddhist monuments on the summit of the mountains — Topography of 
the Kingdom of Gechekten — Character of its Inhabitants— Tragical working 
of a Mine — Two Mongols desire to have their horoscope taken — Adventure o 
Samdadchiemba — Environs of the town of Tolon-Noor, 

HE French mission of Pelîing, once so 
flourishing under the early 
emperors of the Tartar- 
Mantchou dynasty, was al- 
most eKtiqjated hy the con- 
stant persecutions of Kia 
King, the fifth monarch of 
that dynasty, who ascended 
the throne in 1799. The 
missionaries were dispersed 
or put to death, and at that 
time Europe was herself too 
deeply agitated to enable her to send succour to this distant Clmsten- 
dom, which remained for a time abandoned. Accordingly, when 
the French Lazarists re-appeared at Peking, they found there scarce 
a vestiore of the true faith. A gi-eat number of Christians, to avoid 


tiie persecutions of the Chinese authorities, had passed the Great 
AVall, and sought peace and liberty in the deserts of Tartary, where 
they lived dispersed upon small patches of land which the Mongols 
permitted them to cultivate. By dint of perseverance the mission- 
aries collected together these dispersed Christians, placed tliemselves 
at their head, and hence superintended the mission of Peking, 
the immediate administration of which was in the hands of a few 
Chinese Lazarists. The French missionaries could not, with any 
prudence, have resumed their former position in the capital of the 
emph-e. Theii' presence would have compromised tlie prospects of 
the scarcely reviving mission. 

In visiting the Chinese Christians of IMongolia, we more 
than once had occasion to make excursions into the Land of Grass, 
(Isao-Ti), as the uncultivated portions of Tartary are designated, 
and to take up our temporary abode beneatli the tents of the Mon- 
gols. We were no sooner acquainted with this nomadic people, 
than we loved them, and our hearts were filled with a passionate 
desire to announce the gospel to them. Our whole leisure was 
therefore devoted to acquiring the Tartar dialects, and in 1842, 
the Holy See at length fulfilled our desh-es, by erecting Mongolia 
into an Apostolical Vicariat. 

Towards the commencement of the year 1 844, couriers arrived 
at Si-wang, a small Christian community, where the vicar apostolic 
of Mongolia had fixed his episcopal residence. Si-wang itself is a 
village, north of the Great Wall, one day's journey from Suen-hoa- 
Fou. The prelate sent us instructions for an extended voyage we 
were to undertake for the purpose of studying the character and 
manners of the Tartars, and of ascertaining as nearly as possible the 
extent and limits of the Vicariat. This journey, then, which we 
had so long meditated, was now determined upon ; ,and we sent a 
young Lama convert in search of some camels which we had put 
to pasture in the kingdom of Naiman. Pending his absence, we 
hastened the completion of several Mongol works, the translation of 
which had occupied us for a considerable time. Our little books 
of prayer and doctrine were ready, still our young Lama had 
not returned; but thinking he could not delay much longer, 
we quitted the valley of Black Waters (Hé-Chuy ), and proceeded 
on to await his arrival at the Contiguous Defiles (Pié-lié-Keou), 
wliich seemed more favourable for the completion of our pre])ara- 
tions. The days passed away in futile expectation ; the coolness 
of the autumn was becoming somewhat biting, and we feared that 
we should have to begin our journey across the deserts of Tartary 
during the fi'osts of winter. We determined, therefore, to dispatch 
some one in quest of our camels and our Lama. A Iriendly cate 


cliist. a good walker and a man of expedition, proceeded on this 
mission. On the day tixed for that purpose he returned; his 
researches had heen wholly without result. All he had ascertained 
at the place which he had visited was, that our Lama had started 
several days before with our camels. The surprise of our courier 
was extreme when he found that the Lama had not reached us 
before himself. "What!" exclamied he, "are my legs quicker than 
a camel's ! They left Naiman before me, and here I am arrived 
before them ! My spiritual fathers, have patience for another day. 
I'll answer that both Lama and camels will be here in that 
time." Several days, howevei", passed away, and we were still in the 
same position. We once more dispatclied the courier in search of 
the Lama, enjoining him to proceed to the very place where the 
camels had been put to pasture, to ex:imine things with his own 
eyes, and not to trust to any statement that other people might 

Dm-ing this interval of painful suspense, we continued to inhabit 
tl'.e Contiguous Defiles, a Tartar district dependent on the kingdom 
of Ouniot.^ These regions appear to have been affected by great 
revolutions. The present inliabitants state that, in the olden time, 
the country was occupied by Corean tribes, who, expelled thence in 
the com-se of various wars, took refuge in the peninsula which they 
still possess, between the Yellow ^ea and the sea of Japan. You 
often, in these parts of Tartaiy, meet with the remains of great 
towns, and the ruins of fortresses, very nearly resembling tliose of 
tlie middle ages in P^urope, and, upon turning up the soil in these 
places, it is not unusual to find lances, arrows, portions of farming 
implements, and m-ns filled with Corean money. 

Towards the middle of the 17 th centmy, the Chinese began to 
penetrate into this district. At that period, the whole landscape 
was still one of rude grandem-; the mountains were covered with 
fine forests, and the Mongol tents whitened the valleys, amid rich 
pastui-ages. For a very moderate sum the Chinese obtained per- 
mission to cultivate tl)e desert, and as cultivation advanced, the 
Mongols were obliged to retreat, conducting then- flocks and herds 

From that time forth, the aspect of the country became entirely 
changed. All the trees were gTubbed up, the forests disappeared 
fi'om the hills, the prairies were cleared by means of fire, and the 
new cultivators set busily to work in exhausting the fecimdity of 
the soil. Almost the entire region is now in the hands of tlie Chi- 
nese, and it is probably to their system of devastation that a\ e must 

1 Notwithstanding the slight importanr-e of the Tartar tribes, we shall give thcui 
the name of kingdoms, the chiefs of theae tribes are called Wang (Ki:):;;.) 


attribute the extreme iiTegiilarity of the seasons which now desolate 
this unhappy land. Droughts are of almost annual occuiTence ; 
the sjjring winds setting in, dry up the soil; the heavens assume a 
sinister aspect, and the unfortunate population await, in utter terror, 
the manifestation of some terrible calamity ; the winds by degrees 
redouble their violence, and sometimes continue to blow far into 
the summer months. Then the dust rises in clouds, the atmos- 
jDliere becomes thick and dark ; and often, at mid-day, you are en- 
vironed witli the teiTors of night, or rather, with an intense and 
almost palpable blackness, a thousand times more fearful than the 
most sombre night. Next after these hurricanes comes the rain : 
but so comes, that instead of being an object of desire, it is an object 
of dread, for it pours down in furious raging torrents. Sometimes 
the heavens suddenly opening, pour forth in, as it were, an immense 
cascade, all the water with wliich they are charged in that quarter; 
and immediately the fields and their crops disappear under a sea of 
mud, whose enormous waves follow the course of the valleys, and 
carry everything before them. The torrent rushes on, and in a few 
hours the earth reappears ; but the crops are gone, and worse even 
than that, the arable soil also has gone with them. Nothing re- 
mains but a ramification of deep ruts, filled with gi-avel, and thence- 
forth incapable of being ploughed. 

Hail is of frequent occurrence in these unhappy districts, and 
the dimensions of the hailstones are generally enormous. We have 
ourselves seen some that weighed twelve pounds. One moment 
sometimes suffices to exterminate whole flocks. In 1843, during 
one of these storms, there was heard in the air a sound as of a 
I'ushing wind, and therewith fell, in a field near a house, a mass of 
ice larger than an ordinary millstone. It was broken to pieces with 
hatchets, yet, though the sun burned fiercely, three days elapsed 
before these pieces enth-ely melted. 

The droughts and the inundations together, sometimes occasion 
famines which well nigh exterminate the inhabitants. That of 
1832, in the twelfth year of the reign of Tao-Kouang} is the most 
terrible of these on record. The Chinese report that it was every 
where announced by a general presentiment, the exact nature of 
which no one could explain or comprehend. During the winter 
of 1831, a dark i-umour grew into circulation. Next year, it was 
said, there will he neither rich nor poor ; blood ivill cover the moun- 
tains ; hones will fill the valleys (Ou fou, ou kioung ; hue man chan, 
kou man tchouan.) Tliese words were in every one's mouth; the 
children repeated them in their sports ; all were under tlie domina- 

1 Sixth Emperor of tlic Taitar-Mantchou dynasty. He died in the year 1849. 


tion of these sinister apprehensions when the year 1882 commenced. 
Spring and summer passed away without rain, and the frosts of 
autumn set in wliile the crops were yet gi-een ; these crops of coiu'se 
perished, and there was absolutely no harvest. The population 
was soon reduced to the most entii-e destitution. Houses, fields, 
cattle, everything was exchanged for gi'ain, the price of which at- 
tained its weight in gold. When the gTass on the moimtain sides 
was devoured by the starving creatiu-es, the depths of the earth 
were dug into for roots. The fearful prognostic, that had been so 
often repeated, became accompUshed. Thousands died upon the 
hills, whither they had crawled in search of gi-ass ; dead bodies filled 
the roads and houses; whole villages were depopulated to the last 
man. Tliere was. indeed, neither rich nor jwor ; pitiless famine 
had levelled all alike. 

It was in this dismal region that we awaited with impatience the 
cornier, whom, for a second time, we had dispatched into the king- 
dom of Naiman. The day fixed for liis return came and passed, and 
several others followed, but brought no camels, nor Lama, nor 
cornier, which seemed to us most astonishing of all. We became 
desjierate ; we could not longer endm-e this painful and futile sus- 
pense. We devised other means of j)roceeding, since those we had 
aiTanged appeared to be fi'ustrated. llie day of our departure was 
fixed ; it was settled, further, that one of our Christians should 
convey us in his car to Tolon-Noor, distant fi-om the Contiguous 
Defiles about fifty leagues. At Tolon-Noor we were to dismiss our 
temporary conveyance, proceed alone into the desert, and thus 
start on our pilgiimage as well as we could. This project abso- 
lutely stupified our Christian friends ; they could not comprehend 
how two Europeans should undertake by themselves along jom-ney 
through an unkno\%Ti and inimical country : but we had reasons 
for abiding by our resolution. We did not desire that any Chinese 
should accompany us. It appeared to us absolutely necessaiy to 
throw aside the fetters with which the authorities had hitherto con- 
trived to shackle missionaries in China. The excessive caution, or 
rather the imbecile pusillanimity of a Chinese catechist, was calcu- 
lated rather to impede than to facilitate our progi-ess in Tailaiy. 

On the Sunday, the day preceding om* aiTanged departure, eveiy 
thing was ready ; our small trunks were packed and padlocked, and 
the Clnistians had assembled to bid us adieu. On this very evening, 
to the infinite surprise of all of us, our courier arrived. As he ad- 
vanced, his mom-nful countenance told us before he spoke, that his 
intelligence was unfavourable. " My spiritual fathers," said he, 
" all is lost ; you have nothing to hope ; in the kingdom of Xaiman 
there no longer exists anv camels of the Holy Church. The Lama 


doubtless has been killed ; and I have no doubt the devil has had 
a direct hand in the matter " 

Doubts and fears are often harden* to bear than the certainty of 
evil. The intelligence thus received, though lamentable in itself, 
relieved us from our pei-plexity as to the past, without in any way 
alteiii.g our plan for the future. After having received the con- 
dolences of our Christians, we retired to rest, convinced tliat this 
niglit would cei'tainly be that preceding our nomadic life. 

The night was far advanced, when suddenly numerous voices 
were heard outside our abode, and the door was shaken with loud 
and repeated knocks. We rose ct once ; the Lama, the camels, all 
had ai rived; there was quite a little revolution. Tlie order of tlie 
day was instantly changed. We resolved to depart, not on the 
IMonday, but on the T'uesday ; not in a car, but on camels, in true 
Tartar fashion. We returned to our beds perfectly delighterl ; but 
we could not sleep, each of us occupying the remainder of the night 
with plans for eilecting the equipment of the caravan in the most 
expeditious manner possible. 

Next day, while vv^e were making our preparations for departure, 
our I ama explained his extraordinary delay. First, he had under- 
gone a long illness; then he had been occupied a considerable 
time in pursuing a camel which had escaped into the desert; and 
finally, he had to go before some tribunal, in order to procure the 
restitution of a mule which had been stolen from liim. A law-suit, 
an illness, and a camel hunt were amply sufficient reasons for ex- 
cusing the delay which had occurred. Our courier was the only 
person who did not participate in the general joy; he saw it must 
be evident to every one that he had not fulfilled his mission with 
any sort of skill. 

All Monday was occupied in the equipment of our caravan. 
Every person gave his assistance to this object. Some repaired 
our ti-avelling-bouse, that is to say, mended or patched a great blue 
linen tent ; others cut for us a supply of wooden teut pins ; others 
mended the holes in our copper kettle, and renovated the broken 
leg of a joint stool; others prepared cords, and put together the 
thousand and one pieces of a camel's pack. Tailors, caii^enters, 
braziers, rope-makers, saddle-makers, people of all trades assembled 
in active co operation in the court-yard of our humble abode. For 
all, great and small, among our Christians, were resolved that their 
spiritual fathers should proceed on their journey as comfortably 
as j)ossible. 

On Tuesday morning, there remained nothing to be done but 
to perforate the nostrils of the camels, and to insert in the aperture 
a wooden licof, to use as a sort of bit. The arrangement of this was 



left to our Lama. The wild piercing cries of the poor animals 
pending the painful operation, soon collected together all the 
Christians of the village. At tliis moment, our Lama became ex- 
clusively the hero of the expedition. The crowd ranged themselves 
in a ch-cle around him ; every one was curious to see how, by gently 
pulling the cord attached to the peg in its nose, our Lama could 
make the animal obey him, and kneel at his pleasure. Then, 
again, it was an interesting thing for the Chinese to watch our 
Lama packing on the camels' backs the baggage of the two mis 
sionary travellers. When the arrangements were completed, we 
drank a cup of tea, and proceeded to the chapel ; the Christians 
recited prayers for our safe journey; we received their farewell, in- 
teiTupted with tears, and proceeded on our way. Samdadchiemba, 

our Lama cameleer, gravely mounted on 
a black, stunted, meagre mule, opened 
the march, leading two camels laden 
with our baggage ; then came the two missionaries, MM. Gabetand 
Hue, the former mounted on a tall camel, the latter on a white horse. 
Upon our departure we were resolved to lay aside our accus 
tomed usages, and to become regular Tartars. Yet we did not at 
the outset, and all at once, become exempt from the Chinese 
system. Besides that, for the first mile or two of oiu' journey, we 
were escorted by our Chinese Christians, some on foot, and some on 
horseback, our first stage was to be an inn kept by the Grand 
Catechist of the Contiguous Defiles. 


The progress of our little caravan was not at first wholly suc- 
cessful. We were quite novices in tlie art of saddling and girthing 
camels, so that every five minutes we had to halt, either to re- 
arrange some cord or piece of wood that hurt and ii'ritated the 
camels, or to consolidate upon their backs, as well as we could, the 
ill-packed baggage that tlu^eatened, ever and anon, to fall to the 
ground. We advanced, indeed, despite all these delays, but still 
very slowly. After joiu-neying about thirty-five lis,^ we quitted the 
cultivated district and entered upon the Land of Grass. There we 
got on much better; the camels were more at their ease in the 
desert, and theii- pace became more rapid. 

We ascended a high mountain, where the camels evinced a 
decided tendency to compensate themselves for then- trouble, by 
browzing, on either side, upon the tender stems of the elder tree or 
the green leaves of the wild rose. 'J'he shouts we were obliged to 
keep up, in order to urge forward the indolent beasts, alarmed 
infinite loxes, who issued from tlieh' holes and rushed off in all 
directions On attaining the summit of the rugged liill we saw in 
the hollow beneath the Christian inn of Yan-Pa-Eul. We pro- 
ceeded towards it, our road constantly crossed by fresh and limpid 
sti-eams, which, issuing from the sides of the mountain, reunite at 
its foot and form a rivulet which encircles the inn. We were 
received by the landlord, or, as the Chinese call him, the Comp 
troller of the Chest. 

Inns of this description occur at intervals in the deserts of 
Tartary, along the confines of China. They consist almost univer- 
sally of a large square enclosm-e, formed by high poles interlaced 
with brushwood. In the centre of this enclosure is a mud house, 
never more than ten feet high. With the exception of a few 
wretched rooms at each extremity, the entire structure consists of 
one large apartment, serving at once for cooking, eating, and 
sleeping; thoroughly dirty, and full of smoke and intolerable 
stench. Into this pleasant place all travellers, without distinction, 
are ushered, the portion of space applied to their accommodation 
being a long, wide Kang, as it is called, a sort of furnace, occu- 
pying more than three-fourths of the apartment, about fom- feet 
high, and the flat, smooth surface of which is covered with a 
reed mat, which the richer guests cover again with a travelling 
carpet of felt, or with furs. In front of it, three immense 
coppers, set in glazed earth, serve for the preparation of the 
traveller's milk-broth. The apertures by whicli these monster 
boilers are heated communicate with the interior of the Kang, so 
that its temperature is constantly maintained at a high elevation, 

' The Chinese Li is about equivalent to the quarter of an English mile. 




even in the terrible cold of winter. Upon the amval of guests, 
the Compti-oller of the Chest invites them to ascend the Kang, 
where they seat themselves, their legs crossed tailor-fasliion, round 
a large table, not more than six inches high. The lower part of 
the room is reserved for the peo23le of the inn, who there busy 
themselves in keeping up the fire under the cauldrons, boiling tea, 
and pounding oats and buck wheat into tlour for the repast of the 
travellers. The Kawj of these Tartar-Chinese inns is, till evening, 
a stage full of animation, where the guests eat, drink, smoke, gam- 
ble, dispute, and fight: with night-fall, the refectory, tavern, and 
gambling-house of tlie day is suddenly converted into a dormitory. 
The travellers who have any bed- clothes unroll and arrange them; 
those who have none, settle themselves as best they may in then- 
personal attii-e, and lie down, side by side, round the table. When 
the guests are very numerous they arrange themselves in two cir- 
cles, feet to feet. Thus reclined, those so disposed, sleep ; others, 
awaiting sleep, smoke, drink tea, and gossip, 'ilie efiect of the 
scene, dimly exhibited by an imperfect wick floating amid thick, 
dnty, stinking oil, whose receptacle is ordinarily a broken tea-cup, 
is fantastic, and to the stranger, fearful. 


The Comptroller of the Chest had prepared his own room for 
our accommodation. We washed, but would not sleep there; being 
now Tartar travellers, and in possession of a good tent, we deter- 
mined to try our apprentice hand at setting it up. This resolution 
offended no one, it was quite understood we adopted this course, 
not out of contempt towards the inn, but out of love for a patriar- 
chal life. When we had set up our tent, and unrolled on the 
gi-ound our goat-skin beds, we lighted a pile of brushwood, for the 
nights were already growing cold. Just as we were closing our 
eyes, the Inspector of Darkness startled us with beating the official 
night alarum, upon his brazen tam-tam, the sonorous sound of 
which, reverberating through the adjacent valleys struck with terror 
tlie tigers and wolves frequenting them, and drove them off. 

We were on foot before daylight. Previous to our departure 
we had to perform an operation of considerable importance — no 
other than an entire change of costume, a complete metamorphosis. 
The missionaries who reside in China, all, without exception, wear 
the secular dress of the people, and are in no way distinguishable 
from them ; they bear no outward sign of their religious character. 
It is a great pity that they should be thus obliged to wear the 
secular costume, for it is an obstacle in the way of their preaching 
the gosjîel. Among the Tartars, a hlack man — so they discriminate 
the laity, as wearing their hair, from the clergy, who have their heads 
close shaved — who should talk about religion would be laughed at, 
as impertinently meddling with things, the special province of the 
Lamas, and in no way concerning him. The reasons which appear 
to have introduced and maintained the custom of wearing the 
secular habit on the part of the missionaries in China, no longer 
applying to us, we resolved at length to appear in an ecclesiastical 
exterior becoming our sacred mission. Tiie views of our vicar 
apostolic on the subject, as explained in his wiitten instructions, 
being conformable with our wish, we did not hesitate. We resolved 
to adopt the secular dress of the Thibetian Lamas ; that is to say, 
the dress which they wear when not actually performing their idola- 
trous ministry in the Pagodas. The costume of the Thibetian 
Lamas suggested itself to our preference as being in unison with 
that worn by our young neophyte, Samdadchiemba. 

We announced to the Christians of the inn that we were resolved 
no longer to look like Chinese mercliants; that we were about to 
cut off our long tails, and to shave our heads. This intimation created 
great agitation : some of our disciples even wept ; all sought by 
their eloquence to divert us from a resolution which seemed to 
them fraught with danger ; but their pathetic remonstrances were 
of no avail ; one touch of a razor, in the hands of Samdadchiemba, 



sufEcecl to sever the long tail of baiT, which, to accommodate 
Cliiiiese fashions, we had so carefully cultivated ever since our 
departure from France. We put on a long yellow robe, fastened at 
the right side \vith five gilt buttons, and round the waist by a long red 
sash ; over this was a red 

jacket, with a collar of _^=_:^^ -,.__ 

pui-ple velvet; a yellow 
cap, surmounted by a red 
tuft, comi^leted our new 
costume. Breakfast fol- 
lowed this decisive opera- 
tion, but it was silent and 
sad. When the Comptiol- 
ler of the Chest brought 
in some glasses and an 
um, wherein smoked the 
hot wine drunk by tlie 
Chinese, we told him that 
having changed our habit 
of dress, we should change 
also our habit of living. 
" Take away," said we, 
" that wine and that 
chafing dish ; henceforth 
we renoimce drinking and 
smoking. You know," ad- 
ded we, laughing, " that 
good Lamas abstain fi-om 
wine and tobacco " The 
Chinese Christians who 
surrounded us did not 
join in the laugh ; they 
with deep commiseration. 


looked at us without speaking and 
fully persuaded that we should in- 
evitably peiisli of privation and miseiy in the deserts of Tartary. 
Breakfast finished, while the people of the inn were packing 
up oui- tent, saddling the camels, and preparing for our depar- 
tm-e, we took a coTiple of rolls, baked in the steam of the fur 
nace, and walked out to complete our meal with some wild cun-ants 
growing on the bank of tlie adjacent rivulet. It was soon 
announced to us that everything was ready — so, moiniting our 
respective animals, we proceeded on the road to Tolon-Noor, accom- 
panied by Samdadcliiemba. 

We were now launched, alone and without a guide, amid a nev/ 
world. We had no longer before us paths traced out by the old 



missionaries, for we were in a country wliere none before us had 
preached Gospel truth. We should no longer have by our side 
those earnest Christian converts, so zealous to serve us ; so anxious, 
by their friendly care, to create around us as it were an atmosphere 
of home. We were abandoned to ourselves, in a hostile land, 
without a friend to advise or to aid us, save Him by whose strength 
we were supported, and whose name we were seeking to make 
kno\\Ti to all the nations of the earth. 

As we have just observed, Samdadchiemba was our only travel- 
ling companion. This young man Wcis neither Chinese, nor Tartar, 
nor Thibetian. Yet, at the first glance, it was easy to recognise in him 
the features characterizing that which naturalists call the Mongol race. 
A great fiat nose, insolently turned up ; a large mouth, slit in a per- 
fectly straight line, thick, projecting lips, a deep bronze complexion, 
every feature contributed to give to his physiognomy a wild and 

scornful asjject. When his 
little eyes seemed starting out 
of his head from under their 
lids, wholly destitute of eye- 
lash, and he looked at you 
wrinkling his brow, he in- 
spired you at once with feel- 
ings of dread and yet of con- 
fidence. The face was without 
any decisive character : it 
exhibited neither the mis- 
chievous knavery of the Chi 
nese, nor the frank good- 
natiQ-e of the Tartar, nor the 
courageous energy of the 
Thibetian ; but was made up 
of a mixture of all three. 
Samdadchiemba was a DcJiialimir. We shall hereafter have occasion 
to speak more in detail of the native country of our young cameleer. 
At the age of eleven, Samdadchiemba had escaped from his 
Lamasery, in order to avoid the too frequent and too severe cor- 
rections of the master under whom he was more immediately placed. 
He afterwards passed the greater portion of his vagabond youth, 
sometimes in the Chinese towns, sometimes in the deserts of 
Tartary. It is easy to comprehend that this independent coiu-se of 
life had not tended to modify the natural asperity of his character ; 
his intellect was entirely uncultivated ; but, on the other hand, his 
muscular power was enormous, and he was not a little vain of this 
quality, which he took great pleasure in parading. After having 




been instructed and baptized by M. Gabet. he had attaclied himself 
to the service of the missionaries. Tlie journey we were now un- 
dertaking was i^erfectly in harmony with liis erratic and adven- 
turous taste. He was, however, of no mortal service to us as a 
guide across the deserts of Tartary, for he Jinew no more of the 
country than we knew ourselves. Our only informants were a 
compass, and the excellent map of the Chinese empire by Andriveau- 

The first portion of our journey, after leavnig Yan-Pa-Eul, was 
accomplished without interruption, sundry anathemas excepted, 
which were hurled against us as we ascended a mountain, by a 
party of Chinese merchants, whose mides, upon sight of our camels 
and om- own yellow attire, became frightened, and took to their 
heels at full speed, dragging after them, and in one or two instances, 
overturning the waggons to which they were harnessed. 



The mountain in question is called Sa'm-Oula (Good Mountain), 
doubtless iit lucus a non hœendo, since it is notoiious for the dismal 
accidents and tragical adventmes of which it is the theatre. The 
ascent is by a rough, steep path, half-choked up with fallen rocks. 


Mid-way up is a small temi)le, dedicated to the divinity of the 
mountain, Sain-Nai, (the good old Woman;) the occupant is a 
priest, whose business it is, from time to time, to fill up the cavities 
in the road, occasioned by the previous rains, in consideration of 
which service he receives from each passenger a small gratuity, 
constituting his revenue. After a toilsome journey of nearly three 
hoTU's we found ourselves at the summit of the mountain, upon an 
immense plateau, extending from east to west a long day's journey, 
and from north to south still more widely. From this siuinnit you 
discern, afar off in the plains of Tartary, the tents of the Mongols, 
ranged semi-circularly on the slopes of the hills, and looking in 
the distance like so many bee-hives. Several rivers derive their 
source from the sides of this mountain. Chief among these is the 
Chara-Mouren (Yellow Pdver— distinct, of course, from the great 
Yellow Eiver of China, the Hoang-Ho) — the capricious course of 
which the eye can follow on through the kingdom of Qecliekcen, 
after traversing which, and then the district of Naiman, it passes 
the stake-boundary into Mantchouria, and flowing from north to 
south, falls into the sea, approacliing which it assumes the name 

The Good Mountain is noted for its intense frosts. There is 
not a winter passes in which the cold there does not kill many 
travellers. Frequently whole caravans, not arriving at their desti- 
nation on the other side of the mountain, are sought and found on 
its bleak road, man and beast frozen to death. Nor is the danger 
less from the robbers and the wild beasts with whom the mountain 
is a favourite haunt, or rather a permanent station. Assailed by 
the brigands, the unlucky traveller is stripped, not merely of horse 
and money, and baggage, but absolutely of the clothes he wears, 
and then left to perish from cold and hunger. 

Not but that the brigands of these parts are extremely polite all 
the while ; they do not rudely clap a pistol to your ear, and bawl 
at you : "Your money or your life !" No; they mildly advance with 
a courteous salutation: "Venerable elder brother, I am on foot; 
pray lend me your horse— I've got no money, be good enough 
to lend me your purse — It's quite cold to-day, oblige me with the 
loan of your coat." If the venerable elder brother charitably com- 
plies, the matter ends with, "Thanks, brother;" but otherwise, 
the request is forthwith emphasized with the arguments of a cudgel; 
and if these do not convince, recourse is had to the sabre. 

The sun declining ere we had traversed this platform, we re- 
solved to encamp for the night. Our first business was to seek a 
position combining the three essentials of fuel, water, and pasturage ; 
aud, having due regard to the ill reputation of the Good Mountain, 


privacy fi'om observation as complete as could be effected. Being 
novices in travelling, the idea of robbe]'s haunted iis incessantly, and 
we took everybody we saw to be a suspicious character, against whom 
we must be on our guard. A gi-assy nook, surrounded by tall trees, 
appertaining to the Imperial Forest, fulfilled our requisites. Un- 
lading om' dromedaries, we raised, with no slight labour, our tent 
beneath the foliage, aiKl at its entrance installed our faithfid poiter, 
Arsalan, a dog whose size, strength, and courage well entitled him to 
]iis appellation, which, in the Tartar-Mongol dialect, means " Lion." 
Collecting some argols ^ and dry branches of trees, our kettle was 
soon in agitation, and we threw into the boiling water some Koua- 
nden, prepared paste, sometlnng like Vermicelli, which, seasoned 
with some parings of bacon, given us by our fi-iends at Yan-Pa-Eid, 
we hoped would furnish satisfaction for the hunger that began to 
gnaw us. No sooner was the repast ready, than each of us, draw 
ing forth from his giixUe his wooden cup, filled it with Kouamien, 
and raised it to his lips. The preparation was detestable — uneatable. 
The manufacturers of Kouamien always salt it for its longer pre- 
servation ; but this paste of om's had been salted beyond all endur- 
ance. Even Arsalan would not eat the composition. Soaking it 

' Dried dung, which constitutes the chief, and indeed in many places the sole 
fuel in Tartar^. 


for a while in cold water, we once more boiled it up, but in vain : 
the dish remained nearly as salt as ever: so, abandoning it to Arsa- 
lan and to Samdadchieraba, v/hose stomach by long use was 
capable of anything, we were fain to content ourselves with 
the dry-cold^ as the Chinese say ; and, taking with us a couple of 
small loaves, walked into the Imperial Forest, in order at least to 
season our repast with an agreeable walk. Our first nomade supper, 
however, turned out better than we had expected, Providence placing 
in our path numerous Ngao-la-Eul and Chanhj-Hotim/ trees, the 
former, a shrub about five inches high, which bears a pleasant 
wild cherry; the other, also a low but very bushy shrub, producing 
a small scarlet apjîle, of a sharp agreeable flavour, of which a very 
succulent jelly is made. 

The Imperial Forest extends more than a hundred leagues from 
north to south, and nearly eighty from east to west. The Emperor 
Khang-Hi, in one of his expeditions into Mongolia, adopted it as a 
hunting gi'ound. He repaired thither every year, and his successors 
regularly followed his example, down to Kia-Kimi, who, upon a 
hunting excursion, was killed by lightning at Ge-lio-Eul, There has 
been no imperial hunting there since that time — now twenty-seven 
yea,rs ago. Tao-Kouançi, son and successor of Kia-King, being per- 
suaded that a fatality impends over the exercise of the chase, since 
his accession to the throne has never set foot in Ge-ho-Uid, which 
may be regarded as tlie Versailles of the Chinese potentates. 
The forest, however, and the animals which inhabit it, have been 
no gainers by the circumstance. Despite the penalty of perpetual 
exile decreed against all who shall be found, with arms in their 
hands, in the forest, it is always half full of poachers and wood- 
cutters. Gamekeepers, indeed, are stationed at intervals through- 
out the forest; but they seem there merely for the purpose of 
enjoying a monopoly of the sale of game and wood. Tliey let any 
one steal either, provided they themselves get the larger share of 
the booty. The poachers are in especial force from the fourth to 
the seventh moon. At this period, the antlers of the stags send 
forth new shoots, which contain a sort of half-coagulated blood, 
called Lou-joung, which plays a distinguished part in the Chinese 
Materia Medica, for its sujiposed chemical qualities, and fetches ac- 
cordingly an exorbitant price. A Lou-joung sometimes sells for 
as much as a hundred and fifty ounces of silver. 

Deer of all kinds abound in the forest ; and tigers, bears, wild 
boars, panthers, and wolves are scarcely less numerous. Woe to 
the hunters and wood-cutters who venture otherwise than in large 
parties into the recesses of the forest; they disajjpear, leaving no 
vestige behind. 



The fear of encountering one of these wild beasts kept us from 
prolonging our walk. Besides, night was setting in, and we hastened 
back to our tent. Our first slumber in the desert was peaceful, and 
next morning early, after a breakfast of oatmeal steeped in tea, we 
resumed om* march along the gi*eat Plateau. We soon reached the 
gi'eat Oho, whither the Tartars resort to worship the Spirit of the 
Mountain. The monument is simply an enormous pile of stones, 
heaped up without any order, and surmounted with dried branches 
of trees, from which hang bones and strips of cloth, on which are 
insciibed verses in the Thibet and Mongol languages. At its base 


is a large granite urn in which the devotees burn incense. They offer, 
besides, pieces of money, which the next Chinese passenger, after 
sundry ceremonious genuflexions before the Obo, carefully collects 
and pockets for his own particular benefit. 

These Obos, which occur so frequently throughout Tartary, 
and which are the objects of constant pilgrimages on the part of 
the Mongols, remind one of the loca excelsa denounced by the 
Jewish prophets. 

It was near noon before the gi'ound, beginning to slope, in- 
timated that we approached the termination of the plateau. We 
then descended rapidly into a deep valley, where we found a smail 
Mongolian encampment, which we passed without pausing, and set 
up our tent for the night on the margin of a pool further on. We 


were now in tlie kingdom of Gecliekten, an undulating country, 
well watered, with abundance of fuel and pasturage, but desolated 
by bands of robbers. The Chinese, who have long since taken pos- 
session of it, have rendered it a sort of general refuge for malefac- 
tors; so that "man of Gecliekten" has become a synonyme for a 
j)erson without fear of God or man, who will commit any miu-der, 
and shrink fi'om no crime. It would seem as though, in this 
country, natm-e resented the encroachments of man upon her rights. 
Wherever the plough has passed, the soil has become poor, arid, 
and sandy, producing nothing but oats, which constitute the food 
of the people. In the whole district there is but one trading town, 
which the Mongols call AUan-Somé, (Temple of Gold). This 
was at first a great l^amasery, containing nearly 2000 Lamas. By 
degrees Chinese have settled there, in order to traffic with the Tar 
tars. In 1843, when we had occasion to visit this place, it had 
already acquired the importance of a town. A highway, commencing 
at Altan-Somé, proceeds towards the north, and after traversing the 
coimtry of the Khalkhas, the river Keroulan, and the Khinggan 
mountains, reaches Nertechink, a town of Siberia. 

The sun had just set, and we were occupied inside the tent 
boiling our tea, when Arsalan warned us, by his barking, of the 
approach of some stranger. We soon heard the trot of ahorse, and 
presently a mounted Tartar aj^peared at the door. " Mendou," he 
exclaimed, by way of respectful salutation to the supposed Lamas, 
raising his joined hands at the same time to his forehead. When 
we invited him to diink a cuj? of tea with us, he fastened his horse 
to one of the tent-pegs, and seated himself by the hearth, " Su's La- 
mas," said he, "under what qiiarter of the heavens were you born?" 
"We are from the western heaven; and you, whence come you?" 
" My j)oor abode is towards the north, at the end of the valley you 
see there on oin* right." " Your country is a fine country." The 
Mongol shook his head sadly, and made no reply. " Brother," 
we proceeded, after a moment's silence, " the Land of Grass is still 
very extensive in the kingdom of Gechekten. Would it not be 
better to cultivate your plains ? What good are these bare lands 
to you ? Woidd not fine crops of corn be preferable to mere grass ?" 
He replied, with atone of deep and settled conviction, "We Mongols 
are formed for living in tents, and pasturing cattle. So long as we 
kept to that in the kingdom of Gechekten, we were rich and happy. 
Now, ever since the Mongols have set themselves to cultivating the 
land, and building houses, they have become poor. The Kitats 
(Chinese) have taken possession of the country; flocks, herds, lands, 
houses, all have passed into their hands. There remain to us only 
a few prames, on which still live, under thek tents, such of the 


Mongols as have not been forced by utter destitution to emigrate 
to other lands." " But if the Chinese are so baneful to you, why 
did you let them penetrate into your country?" " Your words are 
the words of truth, Sirs Lamas; but you are aware that the Mon- 
gols are men of simple hearts. We took pity on these wicked 
Kitats, who came to us weeping, to solicit our charity. We allowed 
them, through pure compassion, to cultivate a few patches of 
land. The Mongols insensibly followed their example, and aban- 
doned the nomadic life. They drank the wine of the Kitats, and 
smoked their tobacco, on credit; they bought their manufactui-es 
on credit at double the real value. When the day of payment came, 
there was no money ready, and the Mongols had to yield, to the 
violence of their creditors, houses, lands, flocks, everything." " But 
could you not seek justice from the tribunals ?" " Justice û'orn the 
tribunals ! Oh, that is out of the question. The Kitats are skilful 
to talk and to lie. It is impossible for a Mongol to gain a suit 
against a Kitat. Sii's Lamas, the kingdom of Gechekten is un- 
done!" So saying, the poor Mongol rose, bowed, mounted his 
horse, and rapidly disappeared in the desert. 

We travelled two more days through this kingdom, and every- 
where witnessed the poverty and wretchedness of its scattered in- 
habitants. Yet the country is naturally endowed with astonishing 
wealth, especially in gold and silver mines, which of themselves 
have occasioned many of its worst calamities. Notwithstanding 
the rigorous prohibition to work these mines, it sometimes happens 
that large bands of Chinese outlaws assemble together, and march, 
sword in hand, to dig into them. These are men professing to be 
endowed with a peculiar capacity for discovering the precious 
metals, guided, according to their own account, by the conformation 
of mountains, and the sorts of plants they pi'oduce. One single 
man, possessed of this fatal gift, will suffice to spread desolation over 
a whole district. He speedily finds himself at the head of thousands 
and thousands of outcasts, who overspread the country, and render 
it the theatre of every crime. While some are occupied in working 
the mines others pillage the surrounding districts, sparing neither 
persons nor property, and committing excesses which the imagina- 
tion could not conceive, and which continue until some mandarin, 
powerful and com-ageous enough to suppress them, is brought within 
their operation, and takes measures against them accordingly. 

Calamities of this nature have fi-equently desolated the kingdom 
of Gechekten; but none of them are comparabk with what hap- 
pened in the kingdom of Ouniot, in 1841. A Chinese mine dis- 
coverer, having ascertained the presence of gold in a j)ai'ticular 
mountain, announced the discovery, and robbers and vagabonds 



at once congregated around him, from far and near, to the number 
of 12,000. This hideous mob put the whole country under subjec- 
tion, and exercised for two years its fearful sway. Almost the entire 
mountain passed through the crucible, and such enormous quan- 
tities of metal were produced, that the price of gold fell in China 

fifty per cent. The inhabitants complained incessantly to the Chi- 
nese mandarins, but in vain ; for these worthies only interfere where 
they can do so with some benefit to themselves. The King of 
Ouniot himself feared to measure his strength with such an army 
of desperadoes. 

One day, however, the Queen of Ouniot, repairing on a pilgrim- 
age to the tomb of her ancestors, had to pass the valley in which 
tlie army of miners was assembled. Her car was surrounded ; she 
was rudely compelled to alight, and it was only upon the sacrifice 


of her jewels that she was permitted to proceed. Upon her return 
home, she reproached the King hitterly for his cowardice. At 
length, stung by her words, he assembled the troops of his two ban- 
ners, and marched against the miners. The engagement which 
ensued was for a while doubtful; but at length the miners were 
driven in by the ïaitai- cavalry, who massacred them without 
mercy. The bulk of the survivors took refuge in the mine. The 
Mongols blocked up the apertures with huge stones. The cries of 
the despaiiing wi-etches within were heard for a few days, and then 
ceased for ever. Those of the miners who were taken alive had 
their eyes put out, and were then dismissed. 

We had just quitted the kingdom of Gechekten, and entered 
that of Thakar, when we came to a military encampment, where 
were stationed a party of Chinese soldiers charged with the preserva- 
tion of the public safety. The hour of repose had arrived ; but 
these soldiers, instead of giving us confidence by their presence, in- 
creased, on the contrary, our fears; for we knew that they were 
themselves the most daring robbers in the whole district. We 
turned aside, therefore, and ensconced ourselves between two rocks, 
where we found just space enough for om* tent. We had scarcely 
set up om- temporaiy abode, when we observed, in the distance, on 
the slope of the mountains, a numerous body of horsemen at full 
galloiD. Their rapid but irregular evolutions seemed to indicate 
that they were pursuing something which constantly evaded them. 
By-and-by, two of the horsemen, perceiving us, dashed up to our 
tent, dismounted, and threw themselves on the ground at the door. 
They were Tartar-Mongols. "Men of prayer," said they, with 
voices full of emotion, "we come to ask you to draw our horoscope. 
We have this day had two horses stolen from us. We have fruitlessly 
sought traces of the robbers, and we therefore come to you, men 
whose power and learning is beyond all limit, to tell us where we 
shall find our property." " Brothers," said we, " we are not Lamas 
of Buddha; we do not believe in horoscopes. For a man to say 
that he can, by any such means, discover that which is stolen, is for 
them to put forth the words of falsehood and deception." The 
poor Tartars redoubled their solicitations; but when they found 
that we were inflexible in our resolution, they remounted their 
horses, in order to return to the mountains. 

Samdadchiemba, meanwhile, had been silent, appai-ently paying 
no attention to the incident, but fixed at the fire-place, with his bowl 
of tea to his lips. All of a sudden he knitted his brows, rose, and 
came to the door. The horsemen were at some distance ; but the 
Dchiahour, by an exertion of his stroug lungs, induced them to turn 
round in their saddles. He motioned to them, and they, supposing 


we had relented, and were willing to draw the desired horoscope, 
galloped once more towards us. When they had come within speak- 
ing distance : — " My Mongol brothers," cried Samdadchiemba, " in 
future be more careful ; watch your herds well, and you won't be 
robbed. Retain these words of mine on your memory: they are 
worth all the horoscopes in the world." After this friendly address, 
he gravely re-entered the tent, and seating himself at the hearth, 
resumed his tea. 

We were at first somewhat disconcerted by this singular pro- 
ceeding ; but as the horsemen themselves did not take the matter in 
ill part, but quietly rode off, we burst into a laugh. "Stupid 
Mongols ! " grumbled Samdadchiemba ; " they don't give themselves 
the trouble to watch their animals, and then, when they are stolen 
from them, they run about wanting people to draw horoscopes for 
them. After all, perhaps, it's no wonder, for nobody but ourselves 
tells them the truth. The Lamas encourage them in their credulity; 
for they turn it into a source of income. It is difficult to deal with 
such people. If you tell them you can't draw a horoscope, they don't 
believe you, and merely suppose you don't choose to oblige them. 
To get rid of them, the best way is to give them an answer hap- 
hazard." And here Samdadchiemba laughed with such expansion, 
that his little eyes were completely buried. " Did you ever draw 
a horoscope?" asked we. "Yes, replied he," still laughing. "I 
was very young at the time, not more than fifteen. I was travelling 
through the Red Banner of Thakar, when I was addressed by some 
Mongols who led me into their tent. There they entreated me to 
tell them, by means of divination, where a bull had strayed, which 
had been missing three days. It was to no purpose that I protested 
to them I could not perform divination, that I could not even read." 
' You deceive us/ said they ; ' you are a Dchiahour, and we know 
that the Western Lamas can all divine more or less.' As the 
only way of extricating myself from the dilemma, I resolved to imi- 
tate what I had seen the Lamas do in their divinations. I directed 
one person to collect eleven sheep's droppings, the dryest he could 
find. They were immediately brought. I then seated myself very 
gravely; I counted the droppings over and over; I arranged them 
in rows, and then counted them again ; I rolled them up and down 
in threes ; and then appeared to meditate. At last I said to the 
Mongols, who were impatiently awaiting the result of the horoscope : 
' If you would find your bull, go seek him towards the north.' Be- 
fore the words were well out of my mouth, four men were on horse- 
back, galloping off towards the north. By the most curious chance 
in the world, they had not proceeded far, before the missing animal 
made its appearance, quietly browzing. I at once got the character 


of a diviner of the first class, was entertained in the most liberal 
manner for a week, and when I departed had a stock of butter and 
tea given me enough for another week. Now that I belong to Holy 
Church, I know that these things are wicked and prohibited ; other- 
wise I would have given these horsemen a word or two of horoscope, 
which perhaps would have procured for us, in return, a good cup of 
tea with butter." 

The stolen horses confirmed in our minds the ill reputation of 
the country in which we were now encamped ; and we felt ourselves 
necessitated to take additional precaution. Before night-fall we 
brought in the horse and the mule, and fastened them by cords to 
pins at the door of our tent, and made the camels kneel by their 
side, so as to close up the entrance. By this arrangement no one 
could get near us without bur having full warning given us by the 
camels, which, at the least noise, always make an outcry loud enough 
to awaken the deepest sleeper. Finally, having suspended from one 
of the tent-poles our travelling lantern, which we kept burning all 
the night, we endeavoured to obtain a little repose, but in vain; the 
night passed away, without our getting a wink of sleep. As to 
the DckiaJtour, whom nothing ever troubled, we heard him snoring 
with all the might of his lungs until daybreak. 

We made our preparations for departure very early, for we were 
eager to quit this ill-famed place, and to reach Tolon-Noor, which 
was now distant only a few leagues. 

On our way thither, a horseman stopped his galloping steed, and, 
after looking at us for a moment, addressed us : "You are the chiefs 
of the Christians of the Contiguous Defiles?" Upon our replying 
in the aflSrmative, he dashed o±f again; but turned his head once or 
twice, to have another look at us. He was a Mongol, who had 
charge of some herds at the Contiguous Defiles. He had often seen 
us there ; but the novelty of our present costume at first prevented 
his recognising us. We met also the Tartars who, the day before, 
had asked us to draw a horoscope for them. They had repaired 
by daybreak, to the horse-fah at Tolon Noor, in the hope of finding 
their stolen animals; but their search had been unsuccessful. 

The increasing number of travellers, Tartars and Chinese, whom 
we now met, indicated the approach to the gi-eat town of Tolon- 
Noor. We already saw in the distance, glittering under the sun's 
rays, the gilt roofs of two magnificent Lamaseries that stand in the 
northern subm'bs of the town. We journeyed for some time through 
a succession of cemeteries; for here, as elsewhere, the present genera- 
tion is smTOunded by the ornamental sepulchres of past generations. 
As we observed the numerous population of that large town, en- 
vironed as it were by a vast ch'cle of bones and monumental stones, 


it seemed as though death was continuously engaged in the block- 
ade of life. Here and there, in the vast cemetery which completely 
encircles the city, we remarked little gardens, where, by dint of ex- 
treme labour, a few miserable vegetables were extracted from the 
earth : leeks, spinach, hard bitter lettuces, and cabbages, which, in- 
troduced some years since from Russia, have adapted themselves 
exceedingly well to the climate of Northern China. 

With the exception of these few esculents, the environs of 
Tolon-Noor j)roduce absolutely nothing whatever. The soil is dry 
and sandy, and water terribly scarce. It is only here and there 
that a few limited springs are found, and these are dried up in the 
hot season. 



Inn ai Tolon-Noor — Aspect of the City — Great Foundries of Bells and Idols — 
Conversation with the Lamas of Tolon-Noor — Encampment — Tea Bricks — 
Meeting with Queen Mourguevan — Taste of the Mongols for Pilgrimages — 
Violent Storm— Account from a Mongol Chief of the War of the English 
against China— Topography of the Eight Banners of the Tchakar — The 
Imperial herds — Form and Interior of the Tents— Tartar Manners and Cus- 
toms—Encampment at the Three Lakes — Nocturnal Apparitions — Samdad- 
chiemba relates the Adventures of his Youth — Grey Squirrels of Tartary — 
Arrival at Chahorté. 

Our entrance into the city of Tolon-Noor was fatiguing and 
full of perplexity; for we knew not where to take up our abode. 
We wandered about for a long time in a labp-inth of naiTow, tor- 
tuous streets, encumbei-ed with men and animals and goods. At 
last we found an inn. We unloaded om- dromedaries, deposited the 
baggage in a small room, foddered the animals, and then, having 
afl&xed to the door of our room the jDadlock which, as is the custom, 
our landlord gave us for that pui'pose, we sallied forth in quest of 
dinner. A triangular flag floating before a house in the next 


street, indicated to our joyful hearts an eating-house. A long 
passage led us into a spacious apaitment, in which were symmetri- 
cally set forth a number of little tables. Seating ourselves at one 
of these, a tea-pot, the inevitable prelude in these countries to 
every meal, was set before each of us. You must swallow infinite tea, 
and that boiling hot, before they will consent to bring you anything 
else. At last, when they see you thus occupied, the Comptroller of 
the Table pays you his official visit, a personage of immensely ele- 
gant manners, and ceaseless volubility of tongue, who, after enter- 
taining you with his views upon the affairs of the world in general, 
and each countiy in particular, concludes by announcing what 
there is to eat, and requesting your judgment thereupon. As you 
mention the dishes you desire, he rej^eats their names in a mea- 
sured chant, for the information of the Governor of the Pot. 
Your dinner is served up with admh'able promptitude ; but before 
you commence the meal, etiquette requires that you rise from your 
seat, and invite all the other company present to partake, " Come,*' 
you say, with an engaging gesture, " come my friends, come and 
drink a glass of wine with me ; come and eat a plate of rice ;" and 
so on. " No, thank you," replies every body; " do you rather come 
and seat yourself at my table. It is I who invite you;'^ and so the 
matter ends. By tliis ceremony you have " manifested your 
honour," as the phrase runs, and you may now sit down and 
eat it in comfort, your character as a gentleman perfectly esta- 

When you rise to depart, the Comptroller of the Table again 
appears. As you cross the apartment with him, he chants over 
again the names of the dishes you have had, this time apj^ending 
the prices, and terminating with the sum total, announced with 
especial emphasis, which, proceeding to the counter, you then depo- 
sit in the money-box. In general, the Chinese restaurateurs are quite 
as skilful as those of France in exciting the vanity of the gueëts, 
and promoting the consumption of their commodities. 

Tv/o motives had induced us to direct our steps, in the firet 
instance, to Tolon-Noor: we desired to make more purchases there 
to complete our travelling equipment, and, secondly, it appeared 
to us necessary to place ourselves in communication with the 
Lamas of the country, in order to obtain information from them 
as to the more important localities of Tartary. The pTirchases 
we needed to make gave us occasion to visit the different quarters 
of the town. Tolon-Noor (Seven Lakes) is called by the Chinese 
Lama- Miao (Convent of Lamas). The Mantchous designate 
it NadaR-Omo, and the Thibetians, Tsot-Dun, both transla- 
tions of Tolon-Noor, and, equally with it, meaning " Seven Lakes." 


On the map published î.by ^F. Andriveau-Goiijon,^ this town is 
called Djo-Naiman-Soumé, which in ^Mongol means, " The Hun- 
dred and Eight Convents," This name is perfectly unknowTi in 
the country itself. 

Tolon-Noor is not a walled city, but a vast agglomeration of 
hideous houses, which seem to have been thrown together wdth a 
pitchfork. The carriage portion of the streets is a marsh of mud 
and putrid filth, deep enough to stifle and buiy the smaller beasts 
of bui'den that not unfrequently fall within it, and whose cai'cases 
remain to aggravate the general stench ; while their loads become 
the prey of the innimierable thieves who are ever on the alert. 
The foot-path is a naiTow, rugged, slippeiy line on either side, just 
wide enough to adn it the passage of one j)erson. 

Yet, despite the nastiness of the town itself, the steiility of the 
environs, the excessive cold of its winter, and the intolerable heat 
of its summer, its population is immense, and its commerce enor- 
mous. Russian merchandise is brought hither in large quantities 
by the way of Kiakta. The Tartars biing incessant herds of 
camels, oxen, and horses, and carry back in exchange tobacco, 
linen, and tea. This constant arrival and departure of strangers 
communicates to the city an animated and varied aspect. All 
sorts of hawkers are at every corner offering their petty wares; the 
regidar traders, from behind their counters, invite, with honeyed 
words and tempting offers, the j)assers-^by to come in and buy. 
The Lamas, in their red and yellow robes, gallop up and down, 
seeking admhation for then- equestrianism, and the skilful ma- 
nagement of then- fiery steeds, 

Tlie trade of Tolon-Noor is mostly in the hands of men from 
the province of Chan-Si, who seldom establish themselves perma- 
nently in the town> but after a few years, when theii- money-chest is 
filled, return to their own country. In this vast emporiiun, the 
Chinese invariably make fortimes, and the Tartars invariably are 
ruined. Tolon-Noor, in fact, is a sort of gi-eat pneumatic pump, 
constantly at work in emptying the pockets of the unlucky Mongols. 

The magnificent statues, in bronze and brass, wliich issue from 
the gi*eat foundries of Tolon-Noor, are celebrated not only through- 
out Tartary, but in the remotest districts of Thibet, Its immense 
workshops supply all the countries subject to the worship of 
Buddha mth idols, bells, and vases employed in that idolatry. 
While we were in the town, a monster statue of Buddha, a present 

1 With the exception of a very few inaccnracies, this map of the Chinese empire 
is a most excellent one. We foimd it of the most valuiible aid throughout our 
ioumey. — Hue. 

An English version of the map is prefixed to this volume. — Ed. 



from a fi-ieud of Oudchoii-Mourdcliin to the Talè-Lama, was jjacked 
for Thibet, on the backs of six camels. The larger statues are cast 
in detail, the component paits being afterwards soldered together. 
We availed ourselves of our stay at Tolon-Noor to have a figure 
of Christ constructed on the model of a bronze original which we 


had brought with us from France. The workmen so marvellously 
excelled, that it was difficult to distinguish the copy from the ori 
ginal. The Chinese work more rapidly and clieaply, and their 
complaisance contrasts most favourably with the tenacious self- 
opinion of their brethren in Europe. 

During our stay at Tolon-Noor, we had frequent occasion to 
visit the Lamaseries, or Lama monasteries, and to converse with 
the idolatrous priests of Buddhism. The Lamas appeared to us 
persons of very limited information ; and as to their symbolism, in 
general, it is little more refined or purer than the creed of the 
vulgar. Their doctrine is still undecided, fluctuating amidst a vast 
fanaticism of which they can give no intelligible account. When 
we asked them for some distinct, clear, positive idea what they 
meant, they were always thrown into utter embai-rassment, and 


stared at oue another. The disciples told us that their masters 
knew all about it ; the masters referred us to the omniscience of 
the Grand Lamas; the Grand Lamas confessed themselves igno 
rant, but talked of some wonderful saint, in some Lamasery at the 
other end of the country: he coidd explain the whole affair. 
However, all of them, disciples and masters, gi-eat Lamas and 
small, agi'eed in this, that their doctrine came from the West : " The 
nearer you approach the West," said they unanimously, " the purer 
and more luminous will the doctrine manifest itself." When we 
expounded to them the truths of Christianity, they never discussed 
the matter; they contented themselves with calmly saying, " Well, 
we don't supj)ose that our prayers are tlie only prayers in the 
world. The Lamas of the West will explain eveiything to you. 
We believe in the traditions that have come fi'om the West." 

In point of fact there is no Lamasery of any importance in 
Tartaiy, the Grand Lama or superior of which is not a man from 
Thibet. Any Tartar Lama who has visited Lha-Ssa [Land of 
Spmtsj, or Mon/ie-D/iot [Eternal Sanctuary], as it is called in the 
Mongol dialect, is received, on his retui-n, as a man to whom the 
mysteries of the past and of the future have been unveiled. 

After maturely weighing the information we had obtained from 
the Lamas, it was decided that we should dii'ect our stei)s towards 
the West. On October 1st we quitted Tolon-Noor ; and it was not 
without infinite trouble that we managed to traverse the filthy town 
with our camels. The poor animals could only get through the 
quagmire streets by fits and starts ; it was first a stumble, then a 
convulsive jump, then another stumble and another jump, and so 
on. Their loads shook on their backs, and at every step we ex- 
pected to see the camel and camel-load prostrate in the mud. We 
considered oiu'selves lucky when, at distant intervals, we came to 
a comparatively diy spot, where the camels could travel, and we 
were thus enabled to re-adjust and tighten the baggage. Samdad 
chiemba got into a desperate ill temper; he went on, and slipped, 
and w^ent on again, without uttering a single word, restricting the 
visible manifestation of his wrath to a (continuous biting of the 

Upon attaining at length the western extremity of the town, 
we got clear of the filth indeed, but found ourselves involved in 
another evil. Before us there was no road marked out, not the 
slightest trace of even a path. There was nothing but an apparently 
interminable chain of small hills, composed of fine, moving sand, 
over which it was impossible to advance at more than a snail's 
pa(;e, and tliis only with extreme laboiu'. Among tliese sand-hills, 
moreover, we were oppressed with an absolutely stifhng heat. Our 


animals were covered with perspiration, ourselves devoured with a 
burning thirst ; but it was in vain that we looked round in all 
directions, as we proceeded, for water ; not a spring, not a pool, not 
a drop presented itself. 

It was already late, and we began to fear we should find no 
spot favourable for the erection of our tent. The ground, however, 
grew by degrees firmer, and we at last discerned some signs of 
vegetation. By-and-by, the sand almost disappeared, and our eyes 
were rejoiced with the sight of continuous verdure. On oiu- left, 
at no great distance, we saw the opening of a defile. M. G abet 
urged on his camel, and went to examine the spot. He soon made 
his appearance at the summit of a hill, and with voice and hand 
directed us to follow him. We hastened on, and found that Pro- 
vidence had led us to a favourable position. A small pool, the 
waters of which were half concealed by thick reeds and other 
marshy vegetation, some brushwood, a plot of grass : what could 
we under the circumstances desrre more ? Hungiy, thirsty, weary 
as we were, the place seemed a perfect Eden. 

The camels were no sooner squatted, than we all three, with 
one accord, and without a word said, seized, each man his wooden 
cup, and rushed to the pond to satisfy his thirst. The water was 
fresh enough; but it affected the nose violently with its strong 
muriatic odour. I rem.embered to have drunk water just like it in 
the Pyrenees, at the good town of Ax, and to have seen it for sale 
in the chemists' shops elsewhere in France : and I remembered, 
further, that by reason of its being particularly stinking and parti- 
cularly nasty, it was sold there at fifteen sous per bottle. 

After having quenched our thirst, our strength by degrees 
returned, and we were then able to fix our tent, and each man to 
set about his especial task. M, Gabet proceeded to cut some bun- 
dles of horn-beam wood; Samdadchiemba collected argols in the 
flap of his jacket; and M. Hue, seated at the entrance of the tent, 
tried his hand at drawing a fowl, a process which Arsalan, stretched 
at his side, watched with greedy eye, having immediate reference to 
the entrails in course of removal. We were resolved, for once and 
away, to have a little festival in the desert; and to take the oppor- 
tunity to indulge our patriotism by initiating our Dchialwur in the 
luxury of a dish prepared according to the rules of the cuisinier 
Français. The fowl, artistically dismembered, was placed at the 
bottom of our great pot. A few roots of synapia, prepared in salt 
water, some onions, a clove of garlic, and some allspice, consti- 
tuted the seasoning. The preparation was soon boiling, for we 
were that day rich in fuel. Samdadchiemba, by-and-by, plunged 
his hand into the pot, drew out a limb of the fowl, and, after care- 


fully insiiectiiig it, pronounced supper to be ready. The pot was 
taken from the trivet, and placed upon the grass. We all three 
seated ourselves ai'ound it, so that our knees almost touched it, and 
each, aimed with two chopsticks, fished out the pieces he desired 
from tlie abundant broth before him. 

When the meal was completed, and we had thanked God for 
the rej)ast he had thus provided us with in the desert, Samdadchi- 
emba went and washed the cauldi'on in the pond. That done, he 
brewed us some tea. The tea used by the Tartars is not prepared 
in the same way as that consumed by the Chinese. The latter, it 
is known, merely employ the smaller and tenderer leaves of the 
plant, which they simply infuse in boiling water, so as to give it a 
golden tint; the coarser leaves, with whicli are mixed up the 
smaller tendi-ils, are pressed together in a mould, in the fomi and 
of the size of the ordinary house brick. Thus prepared, it becomes 
an article of considerable commerce, under the designation of 
Tartar-tea, the Tartars being its exclusive consumers, with the 
exception of the Eussians, who drink great quantities of it. When 
requii-ed for use, a piece of the brick is broken off, pulverised, and 
boiled in the kettle, until the water assumes a reddish hue. Some 
salt is then thi'owTi in, and effervescence commences. When the 
liqmd has become almost black, milk is added, and the beverage, 
the grand luxuiy of the Tartars, is then transfen-ed to the tea-pot. 
Samdadchiemba was a perfect enthusiast of this tea. For our 
pails, we di'ank it in default of something better. 

Next morning, after rolling up our tent, we quitted this asylum 
without regret indeed, for we had selected and occupied it altoge- 
ther without preference. However, before departing, we set up, as 
an ex-voto of our gi-atitude for its reception of us for a night, a 
small wooden cross, on the site of our fire-place, and this precedent 
we afterwards followed, at all our encamping places. Could mis- 
sionaries leave a more appropriate memorial of their journey 
through the desert ! 

We had not advanced an hour's jom'ney on oiu- way, when we 
heard behind us the trampling of many horses, and the confused 
sound of many voices. We looked back, and saw hastening in our 
direction a numerous caravan. Three horsemen soon overtook us, 
one of whom, whose costume bespoke him a Tartar mandarin, 
addressed us with a loud voice, "Sirs, where is your country?" 
" We come fi'om the west." " Tlu'ough what districts has your 
beneficial shadow passed?" "We have last come from Tolon- 
Noor." "Has peace accompanied your progress?" "Hitherto 
we have jom-neyed in all tranquillity. And you : are you at peace ? 
And what is yom' country ?" " We are Khalkhas, of the kingdom 



Of Mourguevan." "Have the rains been abundant? Are your 
tlocks and herds flourishing?" "All goes wel m o.u^ pasture 
..rounds" " Whither proceeds your caravan? We go to 

incUne our foreheads before the Five Towers." The rest of the 
caravan had joined us in the course of this abrupt and humed con- 
versation. We were on the banks of a small stream, bordered 
with brushwood. The 
chief of the caravan or- 
dered a halt, and the 
camels formed, as each 
came up, a circle, in 
the centre of which was 
drawn up a close car 
riage upon four wheels. 
' Sok! sok!' cried the 
camel drivers, and at 
the word, and as with 
one motion, the entire 
circle of intelligent ani 
mais knelt. While nu- 
merous tents, taken 
from their backs, were 

set up, as it were, by 

enchantment, two man 

darins, decorated with 

the blue button, ap 

preached the carriages, 

opened the door, and 

handed out a Tartar 

lady, covered with a 

long silk robe. She was 

the Queen of the Khal- 

khas repairing in pil- 
grimage to the famous 

Lamasery of the Five 

Towers, in the province 


owers. iniiitî Pi'jviin^c 
of Chan-Si. When she saw us, she saluted us with the ordinary form 
of raising both her hands: " Sirs Lamas," sl,e said "is this place 
ausp oious for an encampment?" " Royal Pil,nim of Mourguevan 
we replied, "you may light your fties here m all security, lor 
rurseîves, ^. must p.4eeed on our way, for the sun was already 
h"gh when we folded our tent." And so saying, we took our leave 
of the Tartars of Mourguevan. , 

Our minds were deeply excited upon beholdmg this queen and 


her numerous suite performing this long pilgiimage through the 
desert : no danger, no distance, no expense, no privation deters the 
Mongols from their prosecution. The Mongols are, indeed, an 
essentially religious people ; with them the future life is everything ; 
the things of this world nothing. They live in the world as though 
they were not of it ; they cultivate no lands, they build no houses ; 
they regard themselves as foreigners travelling through life ; and 
this feeling, deep and universal, developes itself in the practical 
form of incessant journeys. 

The taste for pilgrimages which, at all periods of the world's 
history, has manifested itself in religious people, is a thing worthy 
of earnest attention. The worship of the true God led the Jews, 
several times a year, to Jerusalem. In ])rofane antiquity, those 
who took any heed to religious belief at all repaired to Egypt, in 
order to be initiated in the mysteries of Osiris, and to seek lessons 
of wisdom from his priests. It was to travellers that the mysterious 
sphynx of Mount Phicœus proposed the profound enigma of which 
(Edipus discovered the solution. In the middle ages, the spirit of 
pilgrimage held predominant sway in Europe, and the Christians 
of that epoch were full of fervour for this species of devotion. 
The Turks, while they were yet believers, repaired to Mecca in 
great caravans ; and in our travels in Central Asia, we constantly 
met numerous pilgrims going to or fro, all of them profoundly 
filled with and earnestly impelled by a sincere sentiment of religion. 
It is to be remarked that pilgrimages have diminished in Europe, 
in proportion as faith has become rationalist, and as people have 
taken to discuss the truths of religion. Wherever faith remains 
earnest, simple, unquestioning, in the breasts of men, these pil- 
grimages are in vigour. The reason is, that the intensity of simple 
faith creates a peculiarly profound and energetic feeling of the con- 
dition of man, as a wayfarer upon the earth ; and it is natural that 
this feeling should manifest itself in pious wayfarings. Indeed, 
the Catholic Church, which is the depository of all truth, has in- 
troduced processions into the liturgy, as a memorial of pilgrimages, 
and to remind men that this earth is a desert, wherein we com- 
mence, with our birth, the awful journey of eternity. 

We had left far behind us the pilgrims of Mourguevan, and 
began to regi-et that we had not encamped in their company upon 
the banks of the pleasant stream, and amid the fat pastures which 
it fed. Sensations of fear grew upon us, as we saw great clouds 
arise in the horizon, spread, and gi-adually obscure the sky. We 
looked anxiously around, in all directions, for a place in which we 
could commodiously halt for the night, but we saw no indication 
whatever of water. While we were deep in this perplexity, some 



large drops of rain told us that we had no time to lose. " Let us 
make haste, and set up the tent,'' cried Samdadchiemba vehe- 
mently. " You need not trouble yourselves any more in looking 
for water; you will have water enough presently. Let us get under 
shelter before the sky falls on our heads." " That is all very well," 
said we, " but we must have some water for the animals and our- 
selves to drink. You alone require a bucket of water for your tea 
every evening. Where shall we find some water?'" " My fathers, 
you will very speedily h ave more water than you like. Let us encamp, 
that's the first thing to be done. As to thirst, no one will need to 
die of that this evening :; dig but a few holes about the tent, and 
they'll soon overflow with rain-water. But we need not even dig 
holes," added Samdadchiemba, extending his right hand; " do you 
see tliat shepherd there and his flock? You may be sure water is 
not fai- off." Following with oiu* eyes the direction of his finger,, 
we perceived in a lateral valley a man driving a large flock of 
sheep. We immediately turned a&ide, and hastened after the man.. 
The rain which now began to fall in torrents redoubled our celerity. 
To aggravate our distress, the lading of one of the camels just at 
this moment became loose, and slipped right round tow^ards the 
ground, and we had to wait while the camel knelt, and Samdad- 
chiemba readjusted the baggage on its back. We were, conse- 
quently,, thoroughly wet througb before we reached a small lake, 
now agitated and swollen by the falling torrent. There was no 
occasion for deliberating that evening as to the particular site on 
which we should set up our tent ; selection was out of the question, 
when the ground all about was deeply saturated with the rain. 

The violence of the rain itself mitigated ; but the wind abso- 
lutely raged. We had infinite trouble to unrol our miserable tents, 
heavy and impracticable with wet, like a large sheet just taken from 
the washing-tub. The difficulty seemed insuperable when we at- 
tempted to stretch it upon its poles, and we should never have suc- 
ceeded at all, but for the extraordinary muscular power with which 
Samdadchiemba was endowed. At length we efiected a shelter 
from the wind, and from a small cold rain with which it was ac- 
companied. When our lodging was established, Samdadchiemba 
addressed us in these consolatory words : — " My spiritual fathers, 
I told you we should not die to-day of thirst ; but I am not at all 
sure that we don't run some risk of dying of hunger." In point 
of fact, there seemed no possibility of making a fire. There was not 
a tree, not a shrub, not a root to be seen. As to argols, they were 
out of the question ; the rain had long since reduced that combus 
tible of the desert to a liquid pulp. 

We had formed our resolution, and were on the point of making 


a supper of meal steeped iu a little cold water, wlien we saw ap- 
proaching us two 'Jartars, leadiug a small camel. After the usual 
salutations, one of them said : " tSirs Lamas, this day the heavens 
have fallen ; you, douhtless, have been unable to make a fire." 
" Alas! how should we make a fire, when we have no argols?" 
" Men are all brothers, and belong each to tlie other. But laymen 
should honour and serve the holy ones; therefore it is that we 
have come to make a fire for you." The worthy Tartars had seen 
us setting up our tent, and conceiving our embarrassment, had 
hastened to relieve it by a present of two bundles of argols. We 
thanked Providence fortius unexpected succour, and the Dchiahour 
immediately made a fire, and set about the preparation of an oatmeal 
supper. The quantity was on this occasion augmented in favour of 
the two friends who had so opportunely presented themselves. 

During our modest repast, we noticed that one of these Tartars 
was ttie object of especial attention on the part of his comrade. 
We asked him what military grade he occupied in the Blue Banner. 
" When the banners of Tchakar marched two years ago against 
the Rebels of the Soutl),^ I held the rank of Tchouanda." " What! 
were you in that famous war of the South ? But how is it that 
you, shepherds of the plains, have also the courage of soldiers ? 
Accustomed to a life of peace, one would imagine that you would 
never be reconciled to the terrible trade of a soldier, which consists 
in killing others or being killed yourselves." ''Yes, yes, we are 
shepherds, it is true; but we never forget that we are soldiers 
also, and that the Eight Banners compose the army of i-eserve of 
the Grand Master (the Emperor). You know the rule of the Em- 
pire ; when the enemy appears, they send against them, first — the 
Kitat soldiers; next, the banners of the Solon countiy are set in 
motion. If the war is not finished then, all they have to do is to 
give the signal to the banners of the Tchakar, the mere sound of 
whose march always suffices to reduce the rebels to subjection." 

"Were all the banners of Tchakar called together for this 
southern war?" " Y^es, all; at first it was thought a small matter, 
and every one said that it would never affect the Tchakar. The 
troops of Kitat went first, but they did nothing ; the banners of 
Solon also marched; but they could not bear the heat of the South; 
— then the Emperor sent us his sacred order. Each man selected 
his best horse, removed the dust from his bow and Cjuiver, and 
scraped the rust from his lance. In every tent a sheep was 
killed for the feast of departure. Women and children wept, but 
we addressed to them the words of reason. ' Here,' said we, ' for 

1 The English, then at war with the Chinese, were designated by the Tartars 
the Rebels of the South. 



six generations have we received tlie benefits of the Sacred Master, 
and he has asked from us nothing in return. Now that he has 
need of us can we hold hack? He has given to us the fine region 
of Tchakar to be a pasture-land for our cattle, and at the same time 
a barrier for him against the Khalkhas. But now, since it is from 
the South the rebels came, we must march to the South.' Was not 
reason in our mouths, Sirs Lamas? Yes, we resolved to march. 
The Sacred Ordinance reached us at sun-rise, and already by noon 
the Bochehous at the head of their men, stood bv the Tchonanda ; 


next to these were the Nourov-Tchayn, and then the Oinjrmrda. Tlie 
same day we marched to Peking ; ironi Peking they led us to Tien- 
Tsin-Veï, where we remained for three months." *' Did you fight," 
asked Samdadchiemba; " did you see the enemy ?" " No, they did 
not dare to appear. The Kitat told us everywhere that we were 
marching upon certain and unavailing death. ' What can you do,' 
asked they, ' against sea -monsters ? They live in the water like fish. 
Wben you least expect them, they appear on the surface, and hurl 
their fire-bombs at you; while, the instant your bow is bent to shoot 
them, down they dive like frogs.' Then they essayed to frighten 


us; but we soldiers of the Eight Banners know not fear. Before 
our departure the great Lamas had oj^ened the Book of Celestial 
Secrets, and had thence learned that tlie matter would end well for 
us. The Emperor had attached to each Tchouanda a Lama, learned 
in medicine, and skilled in all the sacred auguries, who was to cure 
all the soldiers under him of the diseases of the climate, and to 
jirotect us from the magic of the sea-monsters. What then had we 
to fear? The rebels, hearing that the invincible troops of Tchakar 
were approaching, were seized with fear, and sought peace. The 
Sacred Master, of his immense mercy, granted it, and we returned 
to the care of our flocks." 

The narrative of this Illustrious Sword was to us full of intense 
interest. We forgot for a moment the miseiy of our position amid 
the desert. We were eager to collect further details of the ex])ec]i- 
tion of the English against China; but night falling, the two Tar- 
tars took their way homeward. 

Thus left once more alone, our thoughts became exceedingly sad 
and sombre. We shuddered at the idea so recalled to us of the 
long night just commencing. How were we to get any sleep.' 
The interior of the tent was little better than a mud heap; the 
great fire we had been keeping up had not half dried our clothes; 
it had merely resolved a portion of the water into a thick vapour that 
steamed about us. The furs, which we used at night by way of 
mattress, were in a deplorable condition, not a whit better for the 
purpose than the skin of a drowned cat. In this doleful condition 
of things, a reflection, full of gentle melancholy, came into our 
minds, and consoled us ; we remembered that we were the disciples 
of Him who said, " The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air 
have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head." 

We became so fatigued, after remaining awake the greater part 
of the night, that sleep conquering us, we fell into a restless doze, 
seated over the embers of the fire, our arms crossed, and our heads 
bent forward, in the most uncomfortable position possible. 

It was with extreme delight that we hailed the termination of 
that long and dreary night. At daybreak, the blue, cloudless sky^ 
presaged compensation for the wretchedness of the j^receding 
evening. By-and-by, the sun rising clear and brilliant, inspii-ed us 
with the hope that our still wet clothes would soon get dry as we 
proceeded on our way. We speedily made all preparations for de- 
parture, and the caravan set forth. The weather was magnificent. 
By degrees, the large grass of the praiiie raised its bi-oad head, 
which had been depressed by the heavy rain; the gi-ound became 
firmer, and we experienced, with delight, the gentle heat of the sun's 
ascending rays. At last, to complete our satisfaction, we entered 


upon the plains of the Red Banner, the most picturesque of the 
whole ïchakar. 

Teliakar signifies, in the Mongol tongue, Border-Land. This 
country is limited, on the east by the kingdom of Gechekteti, on the 
west by JVesteni Toumet, on the north by the 8ouniot, on the south 
by the Great Wall. Its extent- is 150 leagues long, by 100 broad. 
The inhabitants of the Tdiakar are all paid soldiers of the Emperor. 
The foot soldiers receive twelve ounces of silver j)er annum, and the 
cavalry twenty-four. 

The Teliakar is divided into eight banners — in Chinese Pa-Ki 
—distinguished by the name of eight colours : white, blue, red, 
yellow, French vt^hite, light blue, pink, and light yellow. Each 
banner has its separate territory, and a tribunal, named Noiirou- 
Tchayn, having jurisdiction over all the matters that may occur in 
the Banner. Besides this tribunal, there is, in each of the Eight 
Banners, a chief called Ou-Gourdha. Of the eight On-GourdJias 
one is selected to fill at the same time, the post of governor-general 
of the Eight Banners. All these dignitaries are nominated and 
paid by the Emperor of China. In fact, the Tchakar is nothing 
more nor less than a vast camp, occupied by an army of reserve. 
In order, no doubt, that this array may be at all times ready to 
march at the first signal, the Tartars are severely prohibited to culti- 
vate the land. They must live upon their pay, and upon the produce 
of their flocks and herds. The entire soil of the Eight Banners is in- 
alienable. It sometimes happens that an individual sells his por- 
tion to some Chinese ; but the sale is always declared null and void 
if it comes in any shape before the tribunals. 

It is in these pasturages of the Tchakar that are found the nu- 
merous and magnificent herds and flocks of the Emperor, consisting 
of camels, horses, cattle, and sheep. There are 360 herds of 
liorses alone, each numbering 1200 horses. It is easy from this 
one detail, to imagine the enormous extent of animals possessed 
here by the Emperor. A Tartar, decorated with the white button, 
has charge of each herd. At certain intervals, inspectors- 
general visit the herds, and if any deficiency in the nnmber is dis- 
covered, the chief herdsman has to make it good at his own cost. 
Notwithstanding this impending penalty, the Tartars do not fail 
to convert to their own use the wealth of the Sacred Master, by 
means of a fraudulent exchange. Whenever a Chinese has a 
broken-winded horse, or a lame ox, he takes it to the imperial 
herdsman, who, for a trifling consideration, allows him to select 
what animal he pleases in exchange, from among the imperial 
herds. Being thus always provided with the actual number of 
animals, they can benefit by their fraud in perfect security. 


Never in more splendid weatlier had we traversed a more splendid 
country. The desert is at times horrible, hideous ; but it has also 
its charms — charms all the more intensely appreciated, because 
they are rare in themselves, and because they would in vain be 
sought in populated countries. Tartary has an aspect altogether 
pecidiar to itself: there is nothing in the world that at all resem- 
bles a Tartar landscape. In civilised countries you find, at every 
step, populous towns, a rich and varied cultivation, the thousand 
and one productions of arts and industry, the incessant movements 
of commerce. You are constantly impelled onwards, carried away, 
as it were, by some vast whirlwind. On the other hand, in coun- 
tries where civilisation has not as yet made its way into the light, 
you ordinarily find nothing but primeval forests in all the pomp of 
their exuberant and gigantic vegetation. The soul seems crushed 
beneath a nature all powerful and majestic. There is nothing of 
the kind in Tartary. I'here are no towns, no edifices, no arts, no 
industry, no cultivation, no forests ; everywhere it is prairie, some- 
times inteiTupted by immense lakes, by majestic rivers, by rugged 
and imposing mountains ; sometimes spreading out into vast limit- 
less plains. 'J'here, in these verdant solitudes, the bounds of which 
seem lost in the remote horizon, you might imagine yourself gently 
rocking on the calm waves of some broad ocean. The aspect of 
the prairies of ^lougolia excites neither joy nor soitow, but rather 
a mixture of the two, a sentiment of gentle, religious melancholy, 
which gradually elevates the soul, without wholly excluding from 
its contemplation the things of this world ; a sentiment which 
belongs rather to Heaven than to eaith, and which seems in ad- 
mirable conformity with the nature of intellect served by organs. 

You sometimes in Tartary come upon plains more animated 
than those you have just traversed; they are those, whither the 
greater supply of water and the choicest pastures have attracted 
for a time a number of nomadic families. There yon see rising 
in all directions tents of various dimensions, looking like balloons 
newly inflated, and just about to take their flight into the air. 
Children, with a sort of hod at their backs, run abont collecting 
argols, which they pile np in heaps around their respective tents. 
The matrons look after the calves, make tea in the open air, or 
prepare milk in various ways ; the men, mounted on fiery horses, 
and armed with a long pole, gallop about, guiding to the best pas- 
tures the great herds of cattle which undulate, in the distance all 
around, like waves of the sea. 

All of a sudden these pictures, so full of animation, disappear, 
and you see nothing of that which of late was so fidl of life. Men, 
tents, herds, all have vanished in the twinkling of an eye. You 



merely see in the desert heaps of embers, half-extiuguished fires, 
and a few bones, of wliich birds of prey are disputing the posses- 
sion. Such are the sole vestiges which announce that a Mongol 
ti'ibe has just passed that way. If you ask the reason of these 
abrupt migrations, it is simply this: — the animals having devoured 
all the grass that grew in the vicinity, the chief had given the 
signal for departure; and all the shepherds, folding their tents, had 
driven their herds before them, and proceeded, no matter whither, 
in search of fresh fields and pastures new. 

After having journeyed the entire day through the delicious 
prairies of the Eed Banner, we halted to encamp for the night in a 
valley that seemed full of people. We had scarcely alighted, when 


a number of Tartars approached, and offered their services. After 
having assisted us to unload our camels, and set up our house of 
blue linen, they invited us to come and take tea in their tents. As 
it was late, however, we stayed at home, promising to pay them a 
visit next morning; for the hospitable invitation of our new neigh- 
bours determined us to remain for a day amongst them. We were, 
moreover, very well pleased to profit by the beauty of the weather, 
and of the locality, to recover from the fatigues we had undergone 
the day before. 

Next morning, the time not appropriated to our little household 
cares, and the recitation of our Breviary, was devoted to visiting 
the Mongol tents, Samdadchiemba being left at home in charge of 
the tent. 


We had to take especial care to the safety of our legs, menaced 
by a whole host of watchdogs. A small stick sufficed for the pur- 
pose; but Tartar etiquette required us to leave these weapons at 
the threshold of our host's abode. To enter a man's tent with a 
whip or a stick in your hand is as great an insult as you can offer 
to the family; and quite tantamount to saying, "You are all dogs." 

Visiting amongst the Tartars is a frank, simple atiair, altogetlier 
exempt from the endless formalities of Chinese gentility. On en- 
tering, you give the word of peace amor or inendoK, to the company 
generally. You then seat yourself on the right of the head of tlie 
family, whom you find squatting on the floor, opposite the entrance. 
Next, everybody takes from a pin-se suspended at his girdle a little 
snuff-bottle, and mutual pinches accompany such phrases as these : 
" Is the pasturage with you rich and abundant?" " Are your herds 
in fine condition?" "Are your mares productive?" "Did you 
travel in peace ?" " Does tranquillity prevail ?" and so on. These 
questions and their answers being interchanged always with intense 
gi-avity on both sides, the mistress of the tent, without saying a 
word, holds out her hand to the visitor. He as silently takes from 
his breast-pocket the small wooden bowl, the indispensable vade- 
mecum of all Tartars, and presents it to his hostess, who fills it 
with tea and milk, and returns it. In the richer, more easily circum- 
stanced families, visitors have a small table placed before them, on 
which is butter, oatmeal, grated millet, and hits of cheese, sepa- 
rately contained in little boxes of polished wood. These Tartar 
delicacies the visitors take mixed with their tea. Such as propose 
to treat their guests in a style of perfect magnificence make them 
partakers of a bottle of Mongol wine, warmed in the ashes. This 
wine is nothing more than skimmed milk, subjected lor awhile to 
vinous fermentation, and distilled through a rude apparatus that 
does the office of an alembic. One must be a thorough Tartar to 
relish or even endure this beverage, the flavour and odour of which 
are alike insipid. 

The Mongol tent, for about three feet from the ground, is cylin- 
drical in form. It then becomes conical, like a pointed hat. The 
woodwork of the tent is composed below of a trellis-w^ork of crossed 
bars, which fold up and expand at pleasure. Above these, a circle 
of poles, fixed in the trellis-work, meets at the top, like the sticks of 
an umbrella. Over the woodwork is stretched, once or twice, a 
thick covering of coarse linen, and thus the tent is composed. The 
door, which is always a folding door, is low and narrow. A beam 
crosses it at the bottom by way of threshold, so that on entering 
you have at once to raise yom* feet and lower yoiu* head. Besides 
the door there is another opening at the top of the tent to let out 



the smoke. This opeuing can at any time be closed with a piece of 
felt fastened above it in the tent, and which can be pulled over it 
by means of a string, the end of which hangs by the door. 

The interior is divided into two compartments; that on the left, 
as you enter, is reserved for the men, and thither the visitors pro- 
ceed. Any man who should enter on the right side would be consi- 


dered excessively rude. The right compartment is occupied by the 
women, and there you find the culinary utensils : large earthen ves- 
sels of glazed earth, wherein to keep the store of water; trunks of 
trees, of different sizes, hollowed into the shape of pails, and des- 
tined to contain the preparations of milk, in the various forms 
which they make it undergo. In the centre of the tent is a large 
trivet, planted in the earth, and always ready to receive the large 
iron bell-shaped cauldron that stands by, ready for use. 

Behind the hearth, and facing the door, is a kind of sofa, the 
most singular piece of furaiture that we met with among the 
Tartars. At the two ends are two pillows, having at their extremity 
plates of copper, gilt, and skilfully engraved. There is probally 
not a single tent where you do not find this little couch, which 
seems to be an essential article of furniture; but, stiange to say, 


during our long journey we never saw one of them whicli seemed 
to have been recently made. We had occasion to visit Mongol 
families, where everything bore the mark of easy circumstances, 
even of affluence, but everywhere alike this singular eoucli was 
shabby, and of ancient fabric. But yet it seems made to last for 
ever, and is regularly transmitted li'om generation to generation. 

In the towns where Tartar commerce is carried on, you may hunt 
through every furniture shop, every broker s, every pawnbroker's, 
but vou meet with not one of these pieces of furniture, new or old. 

At the side of the couch, towards the men's quarter, there is 
ordinarily a small square press, which contains the various odds 
and ends that serve to set off the costume of this simple people. 
This chest serves likewise as an altar for a small image of Buddha. 
The divinity, in wood or co]iper, is usually in a sitting posture, the 
legs crossed, and enveloped iip to the neck in a scarf of old yellow 
silk. Nine copper vases, of the size and form of our liqueur glasses. 
are symmetrically arranged before Buddha. It is in these small 
chalices that the Tartars daily make to their idol offerings of water, 
milk, butter, and meal. A few Thibetiau books, wrapped in yellow 
silk, perfect the decoration of the little pagoda. Those whose 
heads are shaved, and who observe celibacy, have alone tbe privi- 
lege of touching these prayer-books. A layman, who should ven- 
ture to take them into his impure and profane hands, would commit 
a sacrilege. 

A number of goats' horns, fixed in the woodwork of the tent, 
complete the furniture of the Mongol habitation. On these hang 
the joints of beef or mutton destined for the family's use, vessels 
filled with butter, bows, aiTOws, and matchlocks : for there is 
scarcely a Tartar family which does not possess at least one fire- 
arm. We were, therefore, surprised to find M. Timkouski, in his 
Journey to Peking,^ making this strange statement: " The sound of 
our fire-anns attracted the attention of the Mongols, who are 
acquainted only with bows and arrows." The Russian writer 
should have known that fire-arms are not so foreign to the Tartars 
as he imagined ; since it is proved that already, as early as the com 
mencement of the 13th century, Tclieng-Ku-Klian had artilleiy in 
his armies. 

The odour peiwading the interior of the Mongol tents, is, to 
those not accustomed to it, disgusting and almost insiq^portable. 
This smell, so ])otent sometimes that it seems to make one's heart 
rise to one's throat, is occasioned by the mutton grease and butter 
with which everything on or about a Tartar is impregnated. It is 

1 " Voyage à Peking, à travers la Mongolie, par M. G. Timkouski," chap, 
ii., p. 57. 


Oil account of this habitual filth, that they are called Tsao-Ta-Dze, 
(Stinking Tartars), by the Chinese, themselves not altogether 
inodorous, or by any means particular about cleanliness. 

Among the Tartars, household and family cares rest entirely 
upon the woman; it is she who milks the cows, and prepares the 
butter, cheese, &c. ; who goes, no matter how far, to draw water ; 
who collects the argol fuel, dries it, and piles it around the tent. 
The making of clothes, the tanning of skins, the fulling of clotli, 
all appertains to her; the sole assistance she obtains, in these 
various labours, being that of her sons, and then oniy while they 
are quite young. 

The occupations of the men are of very limited range ; they con- 
sist wholly in conducting tlie flocks and herds to pasture. This 
for men accustomed from their infancy to horseback is rather an 
amusement than a labour. In point of fact, the nearest approach 
to fatigue they ever incur, is when some of their cattle escape; they 
then dash off at full gallop, in jDursuit, up hill and down dale, until 
they have found the missing animals, and brought them back to 
the herd. The Tartars sometimes hunt ; but it is rather with a 
view to what they can catch than from any amusement they derive 
from the exercise ; the only occasions on which they go out with 
their bows and matchlocks are when they desire to shoot roebucks, 
deer, or pheasants, as presents for their chiefs. Foxes they always 
course. To shoot them, or take them in traps, would, they consider, 
injure the skin, which is held in high esthnation among them. 
They ridicule the Chinese immensely on account of their trapping 
these animals at night. " We," said a famous hunter of the Red 
Banner to us, " set about the thing in an honest straightforward way. 
When we see a fox, we jump on horseback, and gallop after him till 
we have run him down." 

With the exception of their equestrian exercises, the Mongol 
Tartars pass their time in an absolute far niente, sleeping all night, 
and squatting all day in their tents, dosing, drinking tea, or smok- 
ing. At intervals, however, the Tartar conceives a fancy to take 
a lounge abroad ; and his lounge is somewhat different trom that of 
the Parisian idler ; he needs neither cane nor quizzing glass; but 
when the fancy occiu-s, he takes down his whip from its place above 
the door, mounts his horse, always ready saddled outside the door, 
and dashes off* into the desert, no matter whither. When he sees 
another horseman in the distance, he rides up to him; when he 
sees the smoke of a tent, he rides up to that; the only object in 
either case being to have a chat with some new person. 

The two days we passed in these fine plains of the TchaJcar, 
were not without good use. We were able at leisure to dry and 


repair our clothes and our baggage; but, above all, it gave us an 
opportunity to study the Tartars close at hand, and to initiate our 
selves in the habits of the nomad peoples. As we were making pre- 
parations for departure, these temporaiy neighbours aided us to 
fold our tent and to load our camels. " Sirs Lamas," said they, 
"you had better encamp to-night at the Three Lakes; the pasturage 
there is good and abundant. If you make haste you will reach the 
place before sunset. On this side, and on the other side of the 
Three Lakes, there is no water for a considerable distance. Sirs 
Lamas, a good journey to you ! " " Peace be with you, and fare 
■well!" responded we, and with that proceeded once more on our 
way, Samdadchiemba heading the caravan, mounted on his little 
black mule. We quitted this encampment without regiet, just as we 
had quitted preceding encampments; except indeed, that here we left, 
on the spot where our tent had stood, a gi-eater heap of ashes, and 
that the gi-ass around it was more trodden than was usual with us. 

During the morning the weather was magnificent, though 
somewhat cold. But in the afternoon the north wind rose, and be- 
gan to blow with extreme violence. It soon became so cutting, that 
we regretted we had not with us our great fur caps, to operate as a 
protector for the face. We hurried on, in order the sooner to reach 
the Three Lakes, and to have the shelter there of oiu' dear tent. 
In the hope of discovering these lakes, that had been promised us 
by our late friends, we were constantly looking right and left, but 
in vain. It grew late, and, according to the information of the 
Tartars, we began to fear we nmst have passed the only encamp- 
ment we were likely to find that day. By dint of straining om- 
eyes, we at length got sight of a horseman, slowly riding along the 
bottom of a lateral valley. He was at some distance from us; but 
it was essential that we should obtain information from him. M. 
Gabet accordingly hastened after him, at the utmost speed of his 
tall camel's long legs. The horseman heard the cries of the camel, 
looked back, and seeing that some one was approaching him, turned 
his horse round, and galloped towards M. Gabet. As soon as he 
got within ear-shot : " Holy personage," cried he, " has your eye 
j)erceived the yellow goats? I have lost all traces of them." " I 
have not seen the yellow goats ; I seek water, and cannot find it. 
Is it far hence?" "Whence came you? Whither go you?" "I 
belong to the little caravan you see yonder. We have been told 
that we should this evening on our way, find lakes, upon the banks 
of which we could commodiously encamp ; but hitherto we have 
seen nothing of the kind." " How could that be ? 'Tis but a few 
minutes ago you passed within a few yards of the water. Sir* 
Lama, pennit me to attend your shadow; I will guide you to the 


Three Lakes." And so saying, he gave his horse three swinging 
lashes with his whip, in order to jnit it into a pace commensurate 
with that of the camel. In a minute he had joined us. " Men of 
prayer," said the hunter, " you have come somewhat too far ; you 
must turn back. Look" (pointing with his bow) " yonder, you see 
those storks hovering over some reeds : there you will find the 
Three Lakes." "Thanks, brother," said we; "we regret that we 
cannot show you your yellow goats as clearly as you have shown 
us the Three Lakes." The Mongol hunter saluted us, v/ith his 
clasped hands raised to his forehead, and we proceeded with entire 
confidence towards the spot he had pointed out. We had advanced 
but a few paces before we found indications of the near presence of 
some peculiar waters. The grass was less continuous and less 
green, and cracked under our animals' hoofs like dried leaves ; the 
white efilorescence of saltpetre manifested itself more and more 
thickly. At last we found ourselves on the bank of one lake, near 
which were two others. We immediately alighted, and set about 
erecting our tent; but the wind was so violent that it was only 
after long labour and much patience that we completed the task. ' 

While Samdadchiemba was boiling our tea, we amused ourselves 
with watching the camels as they luxuriously licked up the salt- 
petre with wliich the ground was powdered. Next they bent over 
the edge of the lake, and inhaled long, insatiable draughts of the 
brackish water, which we could see ascending their long necks as 
up some flexible pump. 

We had been for some time occupied in this not unpicturesque 
recreation, when, all of a sudden, we heard behind us a confused, 
tumultuous noise, resembling the vehement flapping of sails, 
beaten about by contrary and violent winds. Soon we distinguished, 
amid the uproar, loud cries proceeding from Samdadchiemba. We 
hastened towards him, and were just in time to prevent, by our 
co-operation, the typhoon from uprooting and carrying olf our 
linen louvre. Since our arrival, the wind, augmenting in violence, 
had also changed its direction; so that it now blew exactly from 
the quarter facing which we had placed the opening of our tent. 
We had especial occasion to fear that the tent would be set on 
fire by the lighted argols that were driven about by the wind. 
Our first business therefore was to tack about ; and after a while 
we succeeded in making our tent secure, and so got ofi' with our 
fear and a little fatigue. The misadventure, however, put Sam- 
dadchiemba into a desperately bad humour throughout tlie evening; 
for the wind, by extinguishing the fire, delayed the preparation of 
his darling tea. 

The wind fell as the night advanced, and by degrees the 


weather became magnificent; the sky was clear, the moon full and 
bright, and the stars glittered like diamonds. Alone, in this vast soh- 
tude, we distinguislied in the distance only the fantastic and indis- 
tinct outline of the mountains which loomed in the horizon like 
gigantic phantoms, while the only sound we heard was the cries of 
the thousand aquatic birds, as, on the surface of the lakes, they 
contended for the ends of the reeds and the broad leaves of the 
water-lily. Samdadchiemba was by no means a f)erson to appre- 
ciate the charms of this tranquil scene. He had succeeded in 
again lighting the fire, and was absorbed in the preparation of his 
tea. We accordingly left him squatted before the kettle, and went 
to recite the service, walking round the larger lake, which was nearly 
half a league in circuit. We had proceeded about half round it, 
praying | alternately, when insensibly om- voices fell, and our 
steps were stayed. We both stopped spontaneously, and listened in- 
tently, without ventui-ing to interchange a word, and even endea- 
vouring to suppress our respiration. At last we expressed to each 
other the cause of our mutual terror, but it was in tones low and 
full of emotion : " Did you not hear, just now, and quite close 
to us, what seemed the voices of men?" "Yes, a number of 
voices, speaking as though in secret consultation." " Yet we are 
alone here: — 'tis very surprising. Hist ! let us listen again." "I 
liear nothing; doubtless we were under some illusion." We re 
sumed our walk, and the recitation of our prayers. But we had 
not advanced ten steps, before we again stopped ; for we licai'd, and 
very distinctly, the noise which had before alarmed us, and which 
seemed the confused vague murmur of several voices discussing 
some point in under tones. Yet nothing was visible. We got 
upon a hillock, and thence, by the moon's light, saw, at a short dis- 
tance, some human forms moving in the long gi-ass. We coidd 
hear their voices too, but not distinctly enough to know whether 
they spoke Chinese or Tartar. We retraced our steps to our tent, 
as rapidly as was consistent with the maintenance of silence; for 
we took these people to be robbers, who, ha\-ing perceived our tent, 
were deliberating as to the best means of pillaging us. 

" We are not in safety here," said we to Samdadchiemba; " we 
have discovered, quite close to us, a number of men, and we 
have heard their voices. Go and collect the animals, and bring 
them to the tent." " But," asked Samdadcldemba, knitting his 
brows, "if the robbers come, what shall we do? May we fight 
them? May we kill them? Will Holy Church permit that?" 
" First go and collect tlie animals ; afterwards we will tell you what 
we must do." The animals being brought together, and fastened 
outside the tent, we dii-ected our intrepid Samdadchiemba to finish 


his tea, and we returned on tip-toe to the spot where we had seen 
and heard our mysterious visitors. We looked around in every 
direction, with eye and ear intent ; hut we could neither see nor 
hear any one. A well-trodden pathway, however, which we dis- 
covered among the reeds of tall grass on the margin of the greater 
lake, indicated to us that those whom we had taken to be robbers 
were inoffensive passengers, whose route lay in that direction. We 
returned joyfully to our tent, where we found our valorous Samdad- 
chieinba actively employed in sharpening, upon the top of his 
leather boots, a great Russian cutlass, which he had purchased at 
Tolon-Nonr. *' Well," exclaimed he, fiercely, trying with his thumb 
the edge of his sword, " where are the robbers?" " There are no 
robbers; unrol the goatskins, that we may go to sleep." " 'Tis 
a pity there are no robbers ; for here is something that would have 
cut into them famously ! " " Ay, ay, Samdadchiemba, you are 
wonderfully brave now, because you know there are no robbers." 
" Oh, my spiritual fathers, it is not so ; one should always speak 
the words of candour. I admit that my memory is very bad, and 
that I have never been able to learn many prayers ; but as to 
courage, I may boast of having as much of it as another." We 
laughed at this singularly expressed sally. " You laugh, my spiri- 
tual fathers," said Samdadcliiemba. " Oh, you do not know the 
Dchiahours. In the west, the land of San-Tchouon (Three 
Valleys) enjoys much renown. My coimtrymen hold life in little 
value; they have always a sabre by their side, and a long match- 
lock on then- shoulder. For a word, for a look, they fight and kill 
one another. A Dchiahour, who has never killed any one, is con- 
sidered to have no right to hold his head up among his countiymen. 
He cannot pretend to the character of a brave man." " Very fine! 
Well, you are a brave man, you say : tell us how many men did 
you kill when you were in the Three Valleys ?" Samdadchiemba 
seemed somewhat disconcerted by this question ; he looked away, and 
broke out into a forced laugh. At last, by way of diverting the sub- 
ject, he plunged his cup into the kettle, and drew it out full of tea. 
" Come,'' said we,"drink yourtea, and then tell us about your exploits." 

Samdadchiemba wiped his cup with the skirt of his jacket, and 
having replaced it in his bosom, addressed us gravely, thus : " My 
spiritual fathers, since you desire I should speak to you about 
myself, I will do so ; it was a great sin I committed, but T think 
Jehovah pardoned me when I entered the holy Church. 

" I was quite a child, not more at the utmost, than seven years 
old. I was in the fields about my father's house, tending an old 
she-donkey, the only animal we possessed. One of my companions, 
a boy about ray own age, came to play with me. We began quar- 


relling, and from words fell to blows. I struck liim on the head 
with a great root of a tree that I had in my hand, and the blow was 
so heavy that he fell motionless at my feet. When I saw my com- 
panion stretched on the earth, I stood for a moment as it were 
paralysed, not knowing what to think or to do. Then an awful fear 
came over me, that I should be seized and killed. I looked all about 
me in search of a hole wherein I might conceal my companion, but 
I saw nothing of the kind. I then thought of hiding myself At a 
short distance from our house there was a great pile of brushwood, 
collected for fuel. I directed my steps thither, and with great labour 
made a hole, into which, after desperately scratching myself, I ma- 
naged to creep up to my neck, resolved never to come out of it. 

" When night fell, I found they were seeking me. My mother was 
calhng me in all directions ; but I took good cai'e not to answer. I 
was even anxious not to move the brushwood, lest the sound 
should lead to my discovery, and, as I anticipated, to my being 
killed. I was terribly frightened when I heard a number of people 
crying out, and disputing, I concluded, about me. The night passed 
away ; in the morning I felt devouringly hungry. I began to cry ; 
but I could not even cry at my ease, for I feared to be discovered 
by the people whom I heard moving about, and I was resolved 
never to quit the brushwood." — " But were you not afiaid you 
should die of hunger?" — "The idea never occurred to me; I felt 
hungry indeed, but that was all. The reason I had for concealing 
myself was that I might not die; for I thought that if they did not 
find me, of course they could not kill me " — "Well, and how long 
did you remain in the brushwood?" — "Well, I have often heard 
people say that you can't remain long without eating; but those 
who say so, never tried the experiment. I can answer for it, that 
a boy of seven years old can live, at all events, three days and four 
nights, without eating anything whatever. 

" After the fourth night, early in the morning, they found me 
in my hole. When I felt they were taking me out, I struggled as 
well as I could, and endeavoured to get away. My father took me 
by the arm. I cried and sobbed, ' Do not kill me, do not kill me,' 
cried I; * it was not I who killed Nasamhoyan.'' They carried me to 
the house, for I would not walk. While I wept, in utter despair, 
the people about me laughed. At last they told me not to be afi-aid, 
for that Nasamboyan was not dead, and scon afterwards Nasam- 
hoyan came into the room as well as ever, only that he had a great 
bruise on his face. The blow I had struck him had merely knocked 
him down, and stunned him." 

When the Dchiahoiu' had finished this naiTative, he looked at 
us in tm-ns, laughing and repeating, again and again, " Who will 



say people cannot live without eating?" "Well," said we, "tliis 
is a very good beginning, Samdadclnemba ; but you have not told 
us yet how many men you have killed." " I never killed any one ; 
but that Avas merely because I did not stay long enough in my 
native Three Valleys ; for at the age of ten they put me into a great 
Lamasery. I had for my especial mastei- a very rough, cross man, 
who gave me the strap every day, because I could not repeat the 
prayers he taught me. But it was to no purpose he beat me; I 
could learn nothing: so he left off teaching me, and sent me out to 
fetch water and collect fuel. But he continued to thrash me as 
hard as ever, until the life I led became quite insupportable, and 
at last I ran off with some provisions, and made my way towards 
Tartary. After walking several days, haphazard, and perfectly 
ignorant where I was, I encountered the train of a Grand Lama 
who was repairing to Peking. I joined the caravan, and was em- 
ployed to take charge of a flock of sheep that accompanied the 
party, and served for its food. There was no room for me in any 
of the tents, so I had to sleep in the open air. One evening I 
took up my quarters behind a rock, which sheltered me from the 
wind. In the morning, waking somewhat later than usual, I found 
the encampment struck, and the people all gone. I was left alone 
in the desert. At this time I knew nothing about east, west, 
north, or south ; I had consequently no resource but to wander on 
at random, until I should find some Tartar station. I lived in this 
way for three years — now here, now tliere, exchanging such slight 
services as I could render for my food and tent-room. At last I 
reached Peking, and presented myself at the gate of the Great 
Lamasery of Hoang-Sse, which is entirely composed of Dchiahour 
and Tbibetian Lamas. I was at once admitted, and my country- 
men having clubbed together to buy me a red scarf and a yellow 
cap, I was enabled to join the chorus in the recitation of prayers, 
and, of consequence, to claim my share in the distribution of 
alms." — We interrupted Samdadchiemba at this point, in order to 
learn from him how he could take part in the recitation of prayers, 
without having learned either to read or pray. — " Oh," said he, 
" the thing was easy enough. They gave me an old book ; I held it on 
my knees, and mumbling out some gibberish between my lips, endea- 
voured to catch the tone of my neighbours. When they turned over a 
leaf, I turned over a leaf; so that, altogether, there was no reason why 
the leader of the chorus should take any notice of my manoeuvre. 

" One day, however, a circumstance occurred that very nearly 
occasioned my expulsion from the Lamasery. An ill-natured 
Lama, who had remarked my method of reciting the prayers, used 
to amuse himself with mocking me, and creating a laugh at my 
expense. When the Em])eror's mother died, we were all invited to 


the Yellow Palace to recite jirayers. Before the ceremony com- 
menced, I was sitting quietly in my place, with my book on my 
knees, when this roguish fellow came gently behind me, and look- 
ing over my shoulder mumbled out something or other in imitation 
of my manner. Losing all self-jjossession, 1 gave him so hard a 
blow upon the face, that he fell on his back. The incident excited 
great confusion in the Yellow Palace. The superiors were informed 
of the matter, and by the severe rules of Thibetian discipline, I 
was liable to be flogged for three days with the black whip, and 
then, my hands and feet in irons, to be imprisoned for a year in the 
tower of the Lamasery. One of the principals, however, who had 
taken notice of me before, interposed in my favour. He went to the 
Lamas who constituted the council of discipline, and represented 
to them the fact that the disciple who had been strack was a per- 
son notorious for annoying his companions, and that 1 had received 
extreme provocation from him. He spoke so warmly in my favom' 
that I was pardoned on the mere condition of malving an apology. 
I accordingly placed myself in the way of the Lama whom I 
had offended : ' Brother,' said I, ' shall we go and drink a cup of 
tea together?' * Certainly,' replied he; 'there is no reason why I 
should not drink a cup of tea with you.' We went out, and 
entered the first tea-house that presented itself. Seating ourselves 
at one of the tables in the tea-room, I oft'ered my snuff- bottle to 
my companion, saying : * Elder brother, the other day we had a 
little disagreement ; that was not well. You must confess that you 
were not altogether free from blame. I, on my part, admit thai I 
dealt too heavy a blow. But the matter has grown old ; we will 
think no more about it.' We then drank our tea, interchanged 
various civilities, and so the thing ended." 

These and similar anecdotes of our Dchiahour had carried us far 
into the night. The camels, indeed, were already up and browsing 
their breakfast on the banks of the lake. W^e had but brief time 
before us for repose. "For my part," said Samdadchiemba, "1 
will not lie down at all, but look after the camels. Day will soon 
break. Meantime I'll make a good fire, and prepare the pan-tan.''' 

It was not long before Samdadchiemba roused us with the in- 
timation that the sun was up, and the pan-tan ready. We at once 
rose, and after eating a cup of pan-tan, or, in other words, of oat- 
meal diluted with boiling water, we planted our little cross upon a 
hillock, and proceeded upon om- pilgrimage. 

It was past noon when we came to a place where three wells 
had been dug, at short distances, the one from the other. Although 
it was early in the day, we still thought we had better encamp here. 
A vast plain, on which we could discern no sort of habitation, 
stretched out before us to the distant horizon ; and we might fairly 


conclude it destitute of water, since the Tartars had taken tlie 
trouble to dig these wells. We therefore set up our tent. We soon 
found, however, that we had selected a detestable encampment. 
With excessive nastiness of very brackish and very fetid water was 
combined extreme scarcity of fuel. We looked about for argols, 
but in vain. At last Samdadchiemba, whose eyes were better than 
ours, discerned in the distance a sort of enclosure, in which he 
concluded that cattle had been folded. He took a camel with him 
to the place in the hope of finding plenty of ai'gols there, and he 
certainly returned with an ample supply of the article ; but unfor- 
tunately the precious manure-fuel was not quite dry ; it absolutely 
refused to burn. The Dchiahour essayed an experiment. He hol- 
lowed out a sort of furnace in the ground, surmounting it with a 
turf chimney. The structure was extremely picturesque, but it 
laboured under the enormous disadvantage of being wholly useless. 
Samdadchiemba arranged and re-arranged his fuel, and puffed, and 
puffed, with the full force of his potent lungs. It was all lost labour. 
There was smoke enough, and to spare ; we were enveloped in smoke, 
but not a spark of fire : and the water in the kettle remained relent- 
lessly passive. It was obvious that to boil our tea or heat oatmeal 
was out of the question. Yet we were anxious, at all events, to take 
the chill off the water, so as to disguise, by the warmth, its brackish 
flavour and its disagreeable smell. We adopted this expedient. 

You meet in the jDlains of Mongolia with a sort of grey squirrel, 
living in holes like i-ats. These animals construct, over the open- 
ing of their little dens, a sort of miniature dome, composed of grass, 
artistically twisted, and designed as a shelter from wind and rain. 
These little heaps of dry grass are of the form and size of mole- hills. 
The place where we had now set up our tent abounded with these 
grey squirrels. Thirst made us cruel, and we proceeded to level the 
house-domes of these poor little animals, which retreated into their 
holes below as we approached them. By means of this vandalism 
we managed to collect a sackful of efficient fuel, and so warmed the 
water of the well, which was our only aliment during the day. 

Our provisions had materially diminished, notwithstanding the 
economy to which the want of fire on this and other occasions 
had reduced us. There remained very little meal or millet in our 
store bags, when we learned, from a Tartar whom we met on the 
way, that we were at no great distance from a trading station called 
Chaborté (Slough.) It lay, indeed, somewhat out of the route we 
were pm'suing ; but there was no other place at which we could 
supply ourselves with provisions, until we came to Blue-Town, which we were distant a hundred leagues. We turned there- 
iure ubiiqufiy to the left, and soon reached Chaborté. 



Festival of the Loaves of the Moon — Entertainment in a Mongoltent — Toolholos, 
or Rhapsodists of Tartary — Invocation to Timour — Tartar Education — Indus- 
try of the Women. — Mongols in quest of missing animals — Remains of an 
abandoned City — Road from Peking to Kiaklhu — Commerce between China 
and Russia — Russian Convent at Peking — A Tartar solicits us to cure his 
Mother from a dangerous Illness — Tartar Physicians — The intermittent Fever 
Devil — Various forais of Sepulture in use among the Mongols — Lamasery of 
the Five Towers — Obsequies of the Tartar Kings — Origin of the kingdom of 
Efe — Gymnastic Exercises of the Tartars — Encounter with three Wolves — 
Mongol Carts. 

We arrived at Chaborté on the fifteenth day of the eighth moon, 
the anniversary of great rejoicings among the Chinese. This 
festival, known as the Yué-Pwg (Loaves of the Moon), dates from 
the remotest antiquity. Its original purpose was to honour the moon 
with superstitious rites. On this solemn day, all labom* is sus- 
pended ; the workmen receive from their employers a present of 
money; every person puts on his best clothes; and there is men-y- 
making in every family. Relations and friends interchange cakes 
of various sizes, on which is stamped the image of the moon; that 
is to say, a hare crouching amid a small group of trees. 

Since the fourteenth century, this festival has borne a political 


character, little ■understood, apparently, by the Mongols; hut the 
ti-adition of which is carefully preserved by the Chinese. About 
the year 1368, the Chinese were desirous of shaking off the yoke of 
Tartar dynasty, founded by Tcheng-Kis-Khan, and which had then 
swayed the empire for nearly a hundred years. A vast conspiracy 
was formed throughout all the provinces, which was simultaneously 
to develop itself, on the 15th day of the eighth moon, by the massacre 
of the Mongol soldiers, who were billeted upon ea,ch Chinese family, 
for the double purpose of maintaining themselves and their con- 
quest. The signal was given by a letter concealed in the cakes 
which, as we have stated, are on that day, mutually interchanged 
throughout the country. The massacre was effected, and the 
Tartar army dispersed in the houses of the Chinese, utterly anni- 
hilated. This catastrophe put an end to the Mongol domination; 
and ever since, the Chinese, in celebrating the festival of Yue-Ping, 
have been less intent upon the superstitious worship of the moon, 
than upon the tragic event to which they owed the recovery of their 
national independence. 

The Mongols seem to have entirely lost all memory of the san- 
guinaiy revolution; for every year they take their full part in the 
festival of the Loaves of the Moon, and thus celebrate, without ap- 
parently knowing it, the triumph which their enemies heretofore 
gained over their ancestors. 

At a gun-shot from the place where we were encamped, we 
perceived several Mongol tents, the size and character of which in- 
dicated easiness of circumstances in the proprietors. This indication 
was confirmed by the large herds of cattle, sheep, and horses, which 
were pasturing around. While we were reciting the Breviaiy in our 
tent, Samdadchiemba went to pay a visit to these Mongols. Soon 
afterwards, we saw apj^roaching an old man with a long white beard, 
and whose features bespoke him a personage of distinction. He was 
accompanied by a young Lama, and by a little boy who held his hand. 
" Sirs Lamas," said the old man, "all men are brothers; but they 
who dwell in tents are united one with another as flesh with bone. 
Sirs Lamas, will you come and seat yourselves, for a while, in my poor 
abode ? The fifteenth of this moon is a solemn epo(;h ; you are 
strangers and travellers, and thei-efore cannot this evening occupy 
your places at the hearth of your own noble family. Come and 
repose for a few days with us ; your presence will bring us peace 
and happiness." We told the good old man that we could not 
wholly accept his offer, but that, in the evening, after prayers, we 
would come and take tea with him, and converse for a while about the 
Mongol nation. The venerable Tartar hereupon took his leave; 
but he had not been gone long, before the young Lama who had 


accompanied him returned, and told us that his jieople were awaiting 
om* presence. We felt that we could not refuse at once to comply 
with an invitation so full of frank cordiality, and accordingly, 
having directed our Dchiahour to take good care of the tent, we 
followed the young Lama who had come in quest of us. 

Upon entering the Mongol tent, we were struck and astonished 
at finding a cleanliness one is little accustomed to see in ïartary. 
There was not the ordinary coai'se fire-place in the centre, and the eye 
was not offended with the rude dirty kitchen utensils which generally 
encumber Tartar habitations. It was obvious, besides, that every 
thing had been prepared for a festival. We seated ourselves upon 
a lai-ge red carpet; and there was almost immediately brought 
to us, from the adjacent tent, which served as a kitchen, some 
tea with milk, some small loaves fried in butter; cheese, raisins, 
and jujubs. 

After having been introduced to the numerous Mongols by 
whom we found ourselves surrounded, the conversation insensibly 
tui-ned upon the festival of the Loaves of the Moon. " In our 
Western Land," said we, " this festival is unknown ; men there 
adore only Jehovah, the Creator of the heavens, and of the earth, 
of the sun, of the moon, and of all that exists." — *' Oh, what a holy 
doctrine !" exclaimed the old man, raising his clasped hands to his 
forehead ; " the Tartars themselves, for that matter, do not worship 
the moon; but seeing that the Chinese celebrate this festival, 
they follow the custom without very well knowing why." — " You 
say tiidy ; you do not, indeed, know why you celebrate this festival. 
That is what we heard in the land of the Kitat (Chinese). But do 
you know why the Kitat celebrate it?" and thereupon we related 
to these Mongols what we knew of the tenible massacre of their 
ancestors. Upon the completion of our narrative, we saw the faces 
of all our audience full of astonishment. The young men whis- 
pered to one another ; the old man preserved a moui'nful silence ; 
his head bent down, and big tears flowing from his eyes. " Brother 
rich in years," said we, " this story does not seem to surprise you 
as it does yom* young men, but it fills yom' heart with emotion." — 
" Holy personages," replied the elder, raising his head, and wiping 
away the tears with the back of his hand, " the terrible event which 
occasions such consternation in the minds of my young men was 
not unknown to me, but I would I had never heard of it, and I 
always struggle against its recollection, for it bitngs the hot blood 
into the forehead of every Tartar, whose heart is not sold to the 
Kitat. A day known to our gi'eat Lamas will come, when the blood 
of om* fathers, so shamefully assassinated, will at length be avenged. 
When the holy man who is to lead us to vengeance shall appeal-, 


every one of us will rise and follow in his train; then we shall 
march, in the face of day, and require from the Kitat an account of 
the Tartar blood which they shed in the silence and dark secrecy of 
their houses. The Mongols celebrate every year this festival, most 
of them seeing in it merely an indifferent ceremony; but the 
Loaves of the Moon-day ever recals, in the hearts of a few amongst 
us, the memory of the treachery to which our fathers fell victims, 
and the hope of just vengeance." 

After a brief silence, the old man went on : " Holy personages, 
whatever may be the associations of tliis day, in other respects it is 
truly a festival for us, since you have deigned to enter our poor 
habitation. Let us not further occupy our breasts with sad 
thoughts. Child," said he to a young man seated on the threshold 
of the tent, " if the mutton is boiled enough, clear away these 
things." This command having been executed, the eldest son of 
the family entered, bearing in both hands a small oblong table, on 
which was a boiled sheep, cut into four quarters, heaped one on the 
other. The family being assembled round the table, the chief drew 
a knife from his girdle, severed the sheep's tail, and divided it into 
two equal pieces, which he placed before us. 

With the Tartars, the tail is considered the most delicious por- 
tion of their sheep, and accordingly the most honourable. These 
tails of the Tartarian sheep are of immense size and weight, the 
fat upon them alone weighing from six to eight pounds. 

The fat and juicy tail having thus been offered a homage to 
the two stranger guests, the rest of the company, knife in hand, 
attacked the four quarters of the animal, and had speedily, each 
man, a huge piece before him. Plate or fork there was none, the 
knees supplied the absence of the one, the hands of the other, the 
flowing grease being wiped off, from time to time, upon the front 
of the jacket. Our own embarrassment was extreme. That gi-eat 
white mass of fat had been given to us with the best intentions, 
but, not quite clear of European prejudices, we could not make up 
our stomachs to venture, without bread or salt, upon the lumps of 
tallow that quivered in our hands. We briefly consulted, in our 
native tongue, as to what on earth was to be done under these dis- 
tressing circumstances. Furtively, to replace the horrible masses 
upon the table would be imprudent ; openly to express to our A m- 
phytriou our repugnance to this par excellence Tartarian delicacy, 
was impossible, as wholly opposed to Tartar etiquette. We devised 
this plan : we cut the villanous tail into numerous pieces, and in- 
sisted, in that day of general rejoicing, upon the company's partaking 
with us of this precious dish. There was infinite reluctance to 
deprive us of the treat ; but we persisted, and by degi-ees got entirely 


clear of the abominable mess, ourselves rejoicing, instead, in a cut 
from the leg, the savour of which was more agreeable to oiu- eai-ly 
training. The Homeric repast completed, a heap of polished bones 
alone remaining to recal it, a boy, taking from the goat's-hom on 
which it hung a rude three-stringed violin, presented it to the chief, 
who, in his turn, handed it to a young man of modest mien, whose 
eyes lighted up as he received the instrument. " Noble and holy 
travellers," said the chief, " I have invited a Toolholos to embellish 
this entertainment with some recitations." The minstrel was 
already preluding with his fingers upon the strings of his instru- 
ment. Presently he began to sing, in a strong, emphatic voice, at 
times interweaving with his verses recitations full of fire and anima- 
tion. It was interesting to see all those Tartar faces bent towards 
the minstrel, and accompanying the meaning of his words with the 
movements of their features. The Toolholos selected, for his sub- 
jects, national traditions, which warmly excited the feelings of his 
audience. As to ourselves, very slightly acquainted with the history 
of Tartary, we took small interest in all those illustrious unknown, 
whom the Mongol rhapsodist marshalled over the scene. 

When he had sung for some time, the old man presented to him 
a large cup of milk-wine. 'Jlie minstrel placed his instrument 
upon his knees, and with evident relish proceeded to moisten his 
thioat, parched with the infinitude of marvels he had been relating. 
While, having finished his draught, he was licking the brim of his 
cup: " Toolholo--!," said we, " the songs you have sung were all ex- 
cellent. But you have as yet said nothing about the Immortal 
Tamerlane: the 'Invocation toTimom','we have heard, is a famous 
song, dear to the Mongols." " Yes, yes," exclaimed several voices 
at once, " sing us the ' Invocation to Timour.' " There was a mo- 
ment's silence, and then the Toolholos, having refreshed his memory, 
sang, in a vigorous and warlike tone, the following strophes : — 

" When the divine Timour dwelt within our tents, the Mongol 
nation was redoubtable and warlike ; its least movements made the 
earth bend ; its mere look froze \n ith fear the ten thousand peoples 
upon whom the sun shines. 

" divine Timour, will thy great soul soon revive ? 
Eeturn ! return ! we await thee, Timour ! 
" We live in our vast plains, tranquil and peaceful as sheep; yet 
our hearts are fervent and full of life. The memory of the glorious 
age of Timour is ever present to our minds. Where is the chief who 
is to place himself at our head, and render us once more great 
warriors ? 

' ' divine Timour, will thy great soul soon revive ? 
Eeturn ! return ! we await thee, Timour ! 


" The young Mongol has arms wherewith to quell the wild horse, 
eyes wherewith he sees afar off in the desert the traces of the lost 
camel. Alas ! his arms can no longer bend the bow of his ancestors ; 
his eye cannot see the wiles of the enemy. 

" divine Timour, will thy great soul soon revive ? 
Eeturn ! return ! we await thee, Timour ! 
" We have burned the sweet smelling wood at the feet of the divine 
Timour, our foreheads bent to the earth ; we have offered to him the 
green leaf of tea and the milk of our herds. We are ready; the 
Mongols are on foot, Timour ! And do thou, Lama, send down 
good fortune upon our arrows and our lances. 

" divine Timour, will thy great soul soon revive? 
Return ! return I we await thee, Timour !" 

When the Tartar Troubadour had completed this national song, 
he rose, made a low bow to the company, and, having suspended 
his instrument upon a wooden pin, took his leave. " Our neigh- 
hours," said the old man, " are also keeping the festival, and expect 
the Toolholos : but, since you seem to listen with interest to Tartar 
songs, we will offer some other melodies to your notice. We have 
in our own family a brother who has in his memory a great number 
of airs, cherished by the Mongols ; but he cannot play ; he is not a 
Toolholos. Come, brother Nymbo, sing; you have not got Lamas 
of the West to listen to you every day." 

A Mongol, whom, seated as he was in a corner, we had not before 
noticed, at once rose, and took the place of the departed Toolholos. 
The appearance of this personage was truly remarkable; his neck 
was completely buried in his enormous shoulders ; his great dull 
staring eyes contrasted strangely with his dark face, half-calcined 
as it were by the sun ; his hair, or rather a coarse uncombed mane, 
straggling down his back, completed the savageness of his aspect. 
He began to sing; but his singing was a mere counterfeit, an ab- 
surd parody. His grand qual ity was extreme long-windedness, which 
enabled him to execute roulades, complicated and continuous enough 
to throw any rational audience into fits. We soon became desperately 
tired of his noise, and watched with impatience a moment's cessa- 
tion, that might give us an opportunity of retiring. But this was 
no easy matter ; the villain divined our thoughts, and was resolved 
to spite us. No sooner had he finished one air than he dovetailed 
another into it, and so started afresh. In this way he went on, 
until it was really quite late in the night. At length he paused 
for a moment to drink a cup of tea ; he threw the beverage down his 
throat, and was just clearing his throat to commence anew, when 
we started up, offered to the head of the family a pinch of snuff, 
and, having saluted the rest of the company, withdrew. 


You often meet in Tartaiy these Toolholos, or wandering singers, 
who go about from tent to tent, celebratiug in their melodies 
national events and personages. They are generally very poor ; a 
violin and a flute, suspended from the girdle, are their only pro- 
perty ; but they are always received by the Mongol families with 
kindness and honour; they often remain in one tent for several 
days, and on their departure are supplied with cheese, wine, tea, 
and so on, to support them on their way. These poet-singers, who 
remind us of the minstrels and rhapsodists of Greece, are also very 
numerous in China ; but they are, probably, no where so nmnerous 
or so popular as in Thibet. 

The day after the festival, the sun had scarcely risen, when a 
little boy presented himself at the entrance of our tent, carrying in 
one hand a wooden vessel fiiU of milk, and in the other hand a rude 
rush basket, in which were some new cheese and some butter. He 
was followed soon after by an old Lama, attended by a Tartar who 
had on his shoulder a large bag of fuel. We invited them all to be 
seated. " Brothers of the West," said the Lama, " accept these 
tiifling presents from ray master." We bowed in token of thanks, 
and Samdadchiemba hastened to prepare some tea, which we 
pressed the Lama to stay and partake of. " I will come and 
see you this evening," said he; "but I cannot remain at present; 
for I have not set my pupil the prayer he has to learn this morning." 
The pupil in question was the little boy who had brought the milk. 
The old man then took his pupil by the hand, and they returned 
together to their tent. 

The old Lama was the preceptor of the family, and his fimction 
consisted in dnecting the little boy in the study of the Thibetian 
prayers. The education of the Tartars is very limited. They who 
shave the head, the Lamas, are, as a general rule, the only 
persons who learn to read and pray. There is no such thing 
tliroughout the country as a public school. With the exception of 
a few rich Mongols, who have their children taught at home, all 
the young Lamas are obliged to resort to the Lamaseries, wherein 
is concentrated all that exists in Tartary, of ails, or sciences, or 
intellectual industiy. The Lama is not merely a priest ; he is the 
painter, poet, sculptor, architect, physician; the head, heart, and 
oracle of the laity. The training of the young Mongols, who do not 
resort to the Lamaseries, is limited, with the men, to perfecting the 
use of the bow and arrow and matchlock, and to then obtaining a 
thorough mastery of equesti'ianism. When a mere infant the Mon- 
gol is weaned, and as soon as he is strong enough he is stuck upon 
a horse's back behind a man, the animal is put to a gallop, and the 
juvenile rider, in order not to fall off, has to cling with both hands 


to his teacher's jacket. The Tartars thus become accustomed, from 
a very early age, to the movements of the horse, and by degrees and 
the force of habit, they identify themselves, as it were, with the 

There is, perhaps, no spectacle more exciting than that of 
Mongol riders in chase of a wild horse. They aie armed with a 
long, heavy pole, at the end of which is a running knot. They 
gallop, they fly after the horse they are pursuing down rugged 
ravines, and up precipitous hills, in and out, twisting and twining 
in their rapid course, until they come up with their game. They 
then take the bridle of their own horses in their teeth, seize with 
both hands their heavy pole, and bending forward throw, by a 
powerful effort, the running knot round the wild horse's neck. In 
this exercise the greatest vigour must be combined with the gi-eat- 
est dexterity, in order to enable them to stop short the powerful 
untamed animals with which they have to deal. It sometimes 
happens that pole and cord are broken; but as to a horseman 
being thrown, it is an occurrence we never saw or heard of. 

The Mongol is so accustomed to horseback that he is altogether 
like a fish out of .water when he sets foot on the ground. His step 
is heavy and awkward ; and his bowed legs, his chest bent forward, 
his constant looking around him, all indicate a person who spends 
the greater portion of his time on the back of a horse or a camel. 

When night overtakes the travelling Tartar, it often happens 
that he will not even take the trouble to alight for the purpose of 
repose. Ask people whom you meet in the desert where they slept 
last night, and you will as frequently as not have for answer, in a 
melancholy tone, " Temen dero" (on the camel). It is a singular 
spectacle to see caravans halting at noon, when they come to a 
rich pasturage. The camels disperse in all directions, browsing 
upon the high grass of the prairie, while the Tartars, astride 
between the two humps of the animal, sleep as profoundly as 
though they were sheltered in a good bed. 

This incessant activity, this constant travelling, contributes to 
render the Tartars very vigorous, and capable of supporting the 
most terrible cold, without appearing to be in the least affected by it. 
In the deserts of Tartary, and especially in the country of the Khalk- 
has, the cold is so intense, that for a considerable portion of the 
winter the thermometer will not act, on account of the congelation 
of the mercuiy. The whole district is often covered with snow ; 
and if at these times the south-west wind blows, the plain wears 
the aspect of a raging sea. The wind raises the snow in immense 
waves, and impels the gigantic avalanches vehemently before it. 
Then the Tartars hurry courageously to the aid of their herds and 

thibp:t, and china. C9 

flocks, and you see them dashing in all directions, exciting the 
animals by theii- cries, and driving them to the shelter of some rock 
or mountain. Sometimes these intrepid shepherds stop short amid 
the tempest, and stand erect for a time, as if defying the cold and 
the fuiy of the elements. 

The training of the Tartar women is not more refined than that 
of the men. They are not, indeed, taught the use of the bow and 
the matchlock ; but in equitation they are as expert and as fearless 
as the men. Yet it is only on occasions that they mount on horse- 
back ; such, for example, as travelling, or when there is no man at 
home to go in search of a stray animal. As a general rule, they 
have nothing to do with the care of the herds and flocks. 

Their chief occupation is to prepare the family meals, and to 
make the family clothes. They are perfect mistresses of the needle ; 
it is they who fabricate the hats, boots, coats, and other por- 
tions of the Mongol attire. Tlie leather boots, for example, which 
they make are not indeed very elegant in form, but, on the other 
hand, their solidity is astonishing. 

It was quite unintelligible to us how, with implements so nide 
and coarse as theks, they could manufacture articles almost inde- 
stmctible in their quality. It is true they take their time about 
them, and get on very slowly with their work. The Tartar women 
excel in embroidery, which, for taste and variety of pattern and for 
excellence of manipulation, excited our astonishment. We think 
we may venture to say, that no where in France would you meet 
with embroidery more beautiful and more perfect in fabric than 
that we have seen in Tartaiy. 

The Tartars do not use the needle in the same way as the 
Chinese. In China they impel the needle perpendicularly down 
and up ; whereas the Tartars impel it perpendicularly up and down. 
In France the manner is difierent from both ; if we recollect right, 
the French women impel the needle horizontally from right to left. 
We will not attempt to pronounce as to the respective merit of the 
three methods; we will leave the point to the decision of the 
respectable fraternity of tailors. 

On the 17th of the moon, we proceeded xerj early in the morn- 
ing to the Chinese station of Chaborté, for the purpose of laying in 
a store of meal. Chaborté, as its Mongol name intimates, is built 
upon a slough. The houses are all made of mud, and surrounded 
each by an enclosure of high walls. The streets are irregular, 
tortuous, and naiTow ; the aspect of the whole town is sombre and 
sinister, and the Chinese who inhabit it have, if possible, a more 
knavish look than their countrymen anywhere else. The trade of 
the town comprehends aU the articles in ordinary use with the 


Mongols — oatmeal and millet, cotton manufactures, and brick tea, 
which the Tartars receive in exchange for the products of the desert, 
salt, mushrooms, and furs. Upon our return, we hastened to 
prepare for our departure. While we were packing up our bag- 
gage in the tent, Samdadchiemba went in search of the animals 
which had been put to pasture in the vicinity. A moment after- 
wards he returned with the three camels. " There are the camels," 
said we, with gloomy anticipation, " but where are the horse and 
the mule; they were both at hand just now, for we tied their legs 
to prevent their straying.** " They are stolen, in all probabiUty. It 
never does to encamp too near the Chinese, whom every body knows 
to be arrant horse stealers." These words came upon us like a clap 
of thunder. However, it was not a moment for sterile lamentation ; 
it was necessary to go in search of the thieves. We each mounted 
a camel, and made a circuit in search of the animals, leaving our 
tent under the charge of Arsalan. Our search being futile, we 
resolved to proceed to the Mongol encampment, and inform them 
that the animals had been lost near their habitation. 

By a law among the Tartars, when animals are lost from a 
caravan, the persons occupying the nearest encampment are bound 
either to find them or to replace them. It seems, no doubt, very 
strange to European views, that because, without their consent or 
even knowledge, without being in the smallest degree known to them, 
you have chosen to pitch your tent near those of a Mongol i^arty, 
you and your animals, and your baggage, are to be under their 
res]3onsibility ; but so it is. If a thing disa])pears, the law sup- 
poses that your next neighbour is the thief, or at all events an ac- 
complice. This it is which has contributed to render the Mongols 
so skilful in tracking animals. A mere glance at the slight traces 
left by an animal upon the grass, suffices to inform the Mongol 
pursuer how long since it passed, and whether or not it bore a rider ; 
and the track once found, they follow it throughout all its mean- 
derings, however complicated. 

We had no sooner explained our loss to the Mongol chief, than 
he said to us cheerfully : " Sirs Lamas, do not permit sorrow to in- 
vade your hearts. Your animals cannot be lost; in these plains 
there are neither robbers nor associates of robbers. I will send in 
quest of your horses. If we do not find them, you may select what 
others you please in their place, from our herd. We would have 
you leave this place as happy as you came to it." While he was 
speaking eight of his people mounted on horseback, and dashed off 
in as many directions, upon the quest, each man trailing after him 
his lasso, attached to the long, flexible pole we have described. 
After a while they all collected in one body, and galloped away, as 


hard as they coiild, towards the town. " 'J'hey are ou the track now, 
holy sh-s," said the chief, "who was watching theii- movements by 
our sides, aud you will have youi* horses back very soon. Mean- 
while come within my tent, and drink some tea." 

In about two hours, a boy appeared at the enti'ance of the tent, 
and announced the return of the horsemen. We hastened outside, 
and in the track which we had pursued saw something amid a cloud 
of dust which seemed horsemen galloping hke the wind. We 
j)resently discovered the eight Tartars, dashing along, like so many 
mad centaurs, om' stray animals, each held by a lasso, in the midst 
of them. On their arrival, they alighted, and with an air of satis- 
faction said : " We told you nothing was ever lost in our country." 
We thanked the generous Mongols for the great service they had 
rendered us; and, bidding adieu to them, saddled our horses, and 
dejDarted on our way to the Blue City. 

On the third day we came, in the solitude, upon an imposing 
and majestic monument of antiquity, — a large city utterly abandoned. 
Its tmTeted ramparts, its watch towers, its four great gates, facing 
the four cardinal points, were all there perfect, in preservation, ex- 
cept that, besides being three-fourths buried in the soil, they were 
covered with a thick coating of turf. Arrived opposite the southern 
gate, we directed Samdadcliiemba to proceed quietly with the 
animals, while we paid a visit to the Old Town, as the Tartars 
designate it. Oui- impression, as we entered the vast enclosure, was 
one of mingled awe and sadness. There were no ruins of any sort 
to be seen, but only the outline of a large and fine town, becoming 
absorbed below by gradual accumulations of wind- borne soil, and 
above by a winding-sheet of turf. The arrangement of the streets 
and the position of the principal edifices, were indicated by the 
inequalities of gi'ound. The only living things we found here were 
a young Mongol sheplierd, silently smoking his pipe, and the flock 
of goats he tended. We questioned the former as to when the city 
was built, by whom, when abandoned, and why? We might as 
weU have interrogated his goats ; he knew no more than that the 
place was called the Old Town. 

Such remains of ancient cities are of no unfrequent occurrence 
in the deserts of Mongolia : but eveiything connected with their 
origin and histoiy is buried in darkness. Oh, with what sadness does 
such a spectacle fill the soul ! The ruins of Greece, the superb 
remains of Egypt, — all these, it is true, tell of death; all belong to 
the past ; yet when you gaze upon them, you know what they are ; 
you can retrace, in memory, the revolutions which have occa- 
sioned the ruins and the decay of the country around them. De- 
scend into the tomb, wherein was buried alive the city of Hercu- 


laiieum, — you find there, it is true, a gigantic skeleton, but you have 
within you historical associations wherewith to galvanize it. But 
of these old abandoned cities of Tartary. not a tradition remains ; 
they are tombs without an epitaph, amid solitude and silence, un- 
inteiTupted except when the wandering Tartars halt, for a while, 
within the mined enclosures, because there the pastures are richer 
and more abundant. 

Although, however, nothing positive can be stated respecting these 
remains, the probabilities are, that they date no earlier back than the 
13th century, the period when the Mongols rendered themselves 
masters of the Chinese empire, of which they retained possession 
for more than 100 years. During their domination, say the Chinese 
annals, they erected in Northern Tartary many large and powerful 
cities. Towards the middle of the 14th century the Mongol dynasty 
was expelled from China ; tlie Emperor Young-Lo, who desired to ex- 
terminate the Tartars, invaded their country, and burned their towns, 
making no fewer than three expeditions against them into the desert, 
200 leagues north of the Great Wall. 

After leaving behind us the Old Town, we came to a broad road 
crossing N.S. that along which we were travelling E.W. This road, 
the ordinary route of the Kussian embassies to Peking, is called by 
the Tartars Koutcheon-Dcham (Road of the Emperor's Daughter), be- 
cause it was constructed for the passage of a princess, whom one of the 
Celestial Emperors bestowed upon a King of the Khalkhas. After 
traversing the Tchalmr and Western 6'oz/7«io^, it enters tlie country of 
the Khalkhas by the kingdom of Mowguevan ; thence crossing N.S. 
the great desert of Gobi, it traverses the river Toula, near the Great 
Couren, and terminates with the Eussian factories at Kiaktha. 

This town, under a treaty of peace in 1688 between the 'Km- 
■peroY Kha7ig-Hi, and the White Khan of the Oros, i.e. the Czar of 
Eussia, was established as the entrepôt of the trade between the 
two countries. Its northern portion is occupied by the Russian 
factories, its southern by the Tartaro-Chinese. The intermediate 
space is a neutral ground, devoted to the purposes of commerce. 
The Russians are not permitted to enter the Chinese quarter, nor 
the Chinese the Russian. The commerce of the town is consider- 
able, and apparently very beneficial to both parties. The Russians 
bring linen goods, cloths, velvets, soaps, and hardware ; the Chinese 
tea in bricks, of which the Russians use large quantities ; and 
these Chinese tea-bricks being taken in payment of the Russian 
goods at an easy rate, linen goods are sold in China at a lower rate 
than even in Europe itself. It is owing to their ignorance of this 
commerce of Russia with China that speculators at Canton so fre- 
quently find no market for their commodities. 


Under another treaty of peace between the two powers, signed 
I4th of June, 1728, by Count Vladislavitch, Ambassador Extraor- 
dinaiy of Russia, on the one part, and by the Minister of the Court 
of Peking on the other, the Russian government maintains, in the 
capital of the celestial empire, a monastery, to which is attached a 
school, wherein a certain number of young Russians qualify them- 
selves as Cliiuese and Tartar-Mantchou interpreters. Every ten 
years, the pupils, having completed their studies, return with their 
spiritual pastors of the monasteiy to St. Petersburg, and are re- 
lieved by a new settlement. The little caravan is commanded by 
a Russian otficer, who has it in charge to conduct the new disciples 
to Peking, and bring back the students and the members who have 
completed their period. From Kiaktha to Peking the Russians 
travel at the expense of the Chinese government, and are escorted 
from station to station by Tartar troops. 

M. Timkouski, who in 1820 had charge of the Russian cara- 
van to Peking, tells us, in his account of the journey, that he 
coiild never make out why the Chinese guides led him by a different 
route from that which the preceding ambassadors had pm-sued. 
The Tartars explained the matter to us. They said it was a political 
precaution of the Chinese government, who conceived that, being 
taken by all sorts of roundabout paths and no-paths, the Russians 
might be kept fi-om a knowledge of the regular route ; — an immensely 
imbecile precaution, since the Autocrat of all the Russians would 
not have the slightest diiOBculty in leading his armies to Peking, 
should he ever take a fancy to go and beard the Son of Heaven in 
his celestial seat. 

This road to Kiaktha, which we thus came upon unexpectedly 
amid the deserts of Tartaiy, created a deep emotion in our hearts : 
" Here," said we to each other, " here is a road which leads to 
Europe ! " Our native land presented itself before our imagination, 
and we spontaneously entered upon the road, which connected 
us with our beloved France. The conversation that rose to our 
lips from om- hearts was so pleasing, that we insensibly advanced. 
The sight of some Mongol tents, on an adjacent eminence, recalled 
us to a sense of our position, and at the same moment a loud cry 
came from a Tartar whom we saw gesticulating in front of the tents. 
Not undei'standing the cry to be addressed to us, we turned, and 
were proceeding on om route, when the Tartar, jumping on his 
horse, galloped after us ; upon reaching us, he alighted and knelt 
before us : " Holy sirs," said he, raising his hands before Heaven, 
" have pity upon me, and save my mother from death. I know 
your power is infinite : come and preserve my mother by your 
prayers." The parable of the good Samaritan came before us, and 


we felt that charity forbad us to pass on without doing all we 
could in the matter. We therefore turned once more, in order to 
encamp near the Tartars. 

"While Samdadchiemba arranged our tent, we went, without loss 
of time, to tend the sick woman, whom we found in a very deplor- 
able state. " Inhabitants of the desert," said we to her friends, 
" we know not the use of simples, we are unacquainted with 
the secrets of life, but we will pray to Jehovah for this sick person. 
You have not heard of this Almighty God — your Lamas know him 
not ; but, be assured, Jehovah is the master of life and of death." 
Circumstances did not permit us to dwell on the theme to these 
poor people, who, absorbed in giief and anxiety, could pay little 
attention to our words. We returaed to our tent to pray, the Tartar 
accompanying us. When he saw our Breviary : " Are these," asked 
he, *■ the all-powerful prayers to Jehovah, of which you spoke?" 
" Yes," said we ; " these are the only true prayers ; the only prayers 
that can save." Thereupon he prostrated himself successively before 
each of us, touching the ground with his forehead ; then he took 
the Breviary, and raised it to his head in token of respect. During 
our recitation of the prayers for the sick, the Tartar remained 
seated at the entrance of the tent, preserving a profound and reli- 
gious silence. When we had finished, " Holy men," said he, again 
prostrating himself, " how can I make acknowledgments for your 
gi-eat benefits? I am poor; I can offer you neither horse nor 
sheep." " Mongol brother," we replied, " the priests of Jehovah 
may not oSer up prayers for the sake of enriching themselves; 
since thou art not rich, accept from us this trifling gift;" and we 
presented to him a fragment of a tea-brick. The Tartar was pro- 
foundly moved with this proceeding ; he could not say a word, his 
only answer to us was tears of gratitude. 

We heard next morning with pleasure that the Tartar woman 
was much better. We would fain have remained a few days in the 
place, in order to cultivate the germ of the true faith thus planted 
in the bosom of this family ; but we were compelled to proceed. 
Some of the Tartars escorted us a short distance on our way. 

Medicine in Tartary, as we have already observed, is exclusively 
piactised by the Lamas. When illness attacks any one, his friends 
run to the nearest monastery for a Lama, whose first proceeding, 
upon visiting the patient, is to run his fingers over the pulse of 
both wrists simultaneously, as the fingers of a musician run over 
the strings of an instrument. The Chinese physicians feel both 
pulses also, but in succession. After due deliberation, the Lama 
pronounces his opinion as to the particular nature of the malady. 
According to the religious belief of the Tartars, all illness is owing 


to the visitation of a Tchutgour or demon ; "but the expulsion of 
the demon is first a matter of medicine. The Lama physician next 
proceeds, as Lama apothecary, to give the specific befitting the 
case; the Tartar pharmacopoeia rejecting all mineral chemistry, 
the Lama remedies consist entirely of vegetables pulverised, and 
either infused in water or made up into pills. If the Lama doctor 
happens not to have any medicine with him, he is by no means 
disconcerted; he writes the names of the remedies upon little 
scraps of paper, moistens the papers with his saliva, and rolls them 
up into pills, which the patient tosses down with the same perfect 
confidence as though they were genuine medicaments. To swallow 
the name of a remedy, or the remedy itself, say the Tartars, comes 
to precisely the same thing. 

The medical assault of the usurping demon being applied, the 
Lama next proceeds to spiritual artillery, in the form of prayers, 
adapted to the quality of the demon who has to be dislodged. If 
the patient is poor, the Tchutgour visiting him can evidently be 
only an inferior Tchutgour, requiring merely a brief, off-hand 
prayer, sometimes merely an inteijectional exorcism. If the patient 
is very poor, the Lama troubles himself with neither prayer nor 
pill, but goes away, recommending the friends to wait with patience 
until the sick person gets better or dies, according to the decree of 
Hormoustha. But where the patient is rich, the possessor of large 
flocks, the proceedings are altogether different. First, it is obvious 
that a devil who presumes to visit so eminent a personage must be 
a potent devil, one of the chiefs of the lower world ; and it would 
not be decent for a great Tchutgour to travel like a mere sprite; 
the family, accordingly, are directed to prepare for him a handsome 
suit of clothes, a pair of rich boots, a fine horse, ready saddled and 
bridled, otherwise the devil will never think of going, physic or 
exorcise him how you may. It is even possible, indeed, that one 
horse will not suffice, for the demon, in very rich cases, may turn 
out, upon inquiry, to be so high and mighty a prince, that he has 
with him a number of courtiers and attendants, all of whom have 
to be provided with horses. 

Everything being arranged, the ceremony commences. The 
Lama and numerous co-physicians called in from his own and 
other adjacent monasteries, offer up prayers in the rich man's tents 
for a week or a fortnight, until they perceive that the devil is gone — 
that is to say, until they have exhausted all the disposable tea and 
sheep. If the patient recovers, it is a clear proof that the prayers 
have been efficaciously recited ; if he dies, it is a still greater proof 
of the efficaciousness of the prayers, for not only is the devil gone, 
but the patient has transmigrated to a state far better than that he 
has quitted. 


The prayers recited by the Lamas for the reeoveiy of the skk 
are sometimes accompanied with very dismal and alarming rites. 
The aunt of Tokoura, ehief of an encampment in the Valley of 
Dark Waters, visited by M. Hue, was seized one evening with an 
intermittent fever. " I would invite the attendance of the doctor 
Lama," said Tokoura, " but if he finds that there is a very big 
Tchutgour present, the expenses will ruin me." He waited for 
some days; but as his aunt grew worse and worse, he at last sent 
for a Lama; his anticipations were confirmed. The Lama pra- 
uounced that a demon of considerable rank was present, and that 
no time must be lost in expelling him. Eight other Lamas were 
forthwith called in, who at once set about the construction, in dried 
herbs, of a great puppet, which they entitled the Demon of Inter- 
miUent Fevers, and which, when completed, they placed on its legs 
by means of a stick, in the patient's tent. 

The ceremony began at eleven o'clock at night; the Lamas 
ranged themselves in a semicircle round the upper portion of the 
tent, with cymbals, sea-shells, bells, tambourines, and other instru- 
ments of the noisy Tartar music. The remainder af the circle was 
completed by the members of the family, squatting on the ground 
close to one another, the patient kneeling, or rather crouched on 
her heels, opposite the Demon of Intermittent Fevers. The Lama 
doctor-in-chief had before him a large copper basin filled with 
millet, and some little images made of paste. The dung-fuel 
threw, amid much smoke, a fantastic and quivering light over the 
strange scene. 

Upon a given signal, the clerical orchestra executed an overture 
harsh enough to frighten Satan himself, the lay congregation 
beating time with their hands to the charivari of clanging instru- 
ments and ear-splitting voices. The diabolical concert over, the 
Grand Lama opened the Book of Exorcisms, which he rested on 
his knees. As he chanted one of the forms, he took from the 
basin, from time to time, a handful of millet, which he threw east, 
west, north, and south, according to the Rubric. The tones of his 
voice, as he prayed, were sometimes mournful and suppressed, 
sometimes vehemently loud and energetic. All of a sudden, he 
would quit the regular cadence of prayer, and have an outburst of 
apparently indomitable rage, abusing the herb puppet with fierce 
invectives and fmious gestures. The exorcism terminated, he gave 
a signal by stretching out his arms, right and left, and the other 
Lamas struck up a tremendously noisy chorus, in hurried, dashing 
tones ; all the instruments were set to work, and meantime the lay 
congi'egation, having started up with one accord, ran out of the 
tent, one after the other, and tearing round it like mad people, beat 


it fit their hardest with -sticks, yelling all the while at the pitch of 
their voices in a manner to make ordinary hair stand on end. 
Having thiice performed this demoniac round, they re-entered the 
tent as precipitately as they had quitted it, and resumed iheii- seats. 
Then, all the others covering their faces with their hands, the Grand 
Lama rose and set fire to the herb figure. As soon as the flames 
rose, he uttered a loud cry, which was repeated with interest by the 
rest of the company. The laity immediately rose, seized the burn- 
ing figure, caiTied it into the plain, away fi'om the tents, and there, 
as it consumed, anathematized it with all sorts of imprecations ; 
the Lamas meantime squatted in the tent, tranquilly chanting 
their prayers in a grave, solemn tone. 

Upon the return of the family from their valorous expedition^ 
the praying was exchanged for joyous felicitations. By-and-by, 
each person provided with a lighted torch, the whole party rushed 
simultaneously from the tent, and formed into a procession, the 
laymen first, then the patient, supported on either side by a member 
of the family, and lastly, the nine Lamas, making night hideous 
with their music. In this «tyle the patient was conducted to 
another tent, pursuant to the orders of the Lama, who had declared 
that she must absent herself from her own habitation for an entire 

After this strange treatment, the malady did not return. The 
probability is, that the Lamas, having ascertained the precise 
moment at which the fever-fit would recur, met it at the exact point 
of time by this tremendous counter-excitement, and overcame it. 

Though the maiority of the Lamas seek to foster the ignorant 
ci-edulity of the Tartars, in order to turn it to their own profit, we 
have met some of them who frankly avowed that duplicity and im- 
}X)Sture played considerable part in all their ceremonies. The 
superior of a Lamasery said to us one day : " When a person is ill, 
the recitation of prayers is proper, for Buddha is the master of 
life and death ; it is he who rules the transmigration of beings. 
To take remedies is also fitting, for the great virtue of medicinal 
herbs also comes to us from Buddha. That the Evil One may 
possess a rich person is credible, but that, in order to repel the 
Evil One, the way is to give him dress, and a horse, and what not, 
this is a fiction invented by ignorant and deceiving Lamas, who 
desire to accumulate wealth at the expense of their brothers." 

The manner of inten-ing the dead among the Tartars is not 
uniform. The Lam_as are only calded in to assist at extremely grand 
funerals. Towards the Great Wall, where the Mongols are mixed 
up with the Chinese, tl>e custom of the latter in this particular, as 
in others, has insensibly prevailed. There the corpse is placed. 


after the Chinese fashion, in a coffin, and the coffin in a grave. 
In the desert, among the true nomadic tribes, the entire ceremony 
consists in conveying the dead to the tops of hills or the bottoms 
of ravines, there to be devoured by the birds and beasts of prey. 
It is really horrible to travellers through the deserts of Taitary to 
see, as they constantly do, human remains, for which the eagles 
and the wolves are contending. 

The richer Tartars sometimes burn their dead with great so- 
lemnity. A large furnace of earth is constructed in a pyramidical 
form. Just before it is completed, the body is placed inside, stand- 
ing, surrounded with combustibles. The edifice is then completely 
covered in, with the exception of a small hole at the bottom to 
admit fire, and another at the top, to give egress to the smoke, and 
keep up a cuiTent of air. Dming the combustion, the Lamas sur 
round the tomb and recite prayers. The corpse being burnt, they 
demolish the furnace and remove the bones, which they cai-ry to 
the Grand Lama ; he reduces them to a very fine powder, and 
having added to them an equal quantity of meal, he kneads the 
w^hole with care, and constructs, with his own hands, cakes of 
different sizes, which he places one upon the other, in the form of 
a pyramid. When the bones have been thus prepared by the Grand 
Lama, they are transported with great pomp to a little tower built 
beforehand, in a place indicated by the diviner. 

They almost always give to the ashes of the Lamas a sepulture 
of this description. You meet with a great number of these mo- 
numental towers on the summits of the mountains, and in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Lamaseries; and you may find them in countries 
whence the Mongols have been driven by the Chinese. In other 
respects these countries scarcely retain any trace of the Tartars : 
the Lamaseries, the pasturages, the shepherds, with their tents and 
flocks, all have disappeared, to make room for new people, new 
monuments, new customs. A few small towers raised over graves 
alone remain there, as if to assert the rights of the ancient 
possessors of these lands, and to protest against the invasion of the 

The most celebrated seat of Mongol burials is in the province 
of Chan-Si, at the famous Lamasery of Five Towers {Ou-Tay). 
According to the Tartars, the Lamasery of the Five Towers is the 
best place you can be bmied in. The gi'ound in it is so holy, that 
those who are so fortunate as to be interred there are certain of a 
happy transmigration thence. The marvellous sanctity of this 
place is attributed to the presence of Buddha, who for some cen 
turies past has taken up his abode there in the interior of a moun- 
tain. In 1842 the noble Tokoura, of whom we have already had 



occasion to spealv, conveying the bones of his father and mother to 
the Five Towers, had the infinite happiness to behold tliere the vener- 
able Buddha. " Behind the great monastery," he told us, " there 
is a very lofty mountain, which you must climb by creeping on 
your bauds and feet. Just towards the summit you come to a 
portico cut in the rock ; you lie down on the earth, and look through 
a small aperture not larger than the bowl of a pipe. It is some 
time before you can distinguish anything, but by degrees your eye 
gets used to the place, and you have the happiness of beholding, 
at length, in the depths of the mountain, the face of the ancient 
Buddha. He is seated cross-legged, doing nothing. There are 
around him Lamas of all countries, who are continually paying 
homage to him." 

Whatever you may think of Tokoui-a's narrative, it is certain 
that the Tartars and the Thibetians have given themselves up to 
an inconceivable degree of fanaticism, in reference to the Lamasery 
of the Five Towers. You frequently meet, in the deserts of 
Tartaiy, Mongols, carrying on their shoulders the bones of theh- 
parents, to the Five Towers, to purchase, almost at its weight in 
gold, a few feet of earth, whereon they may raise a small mausoleum. 
Even the Mongols of Torgot perform journeys occupying a whole 


year, and attended with immense difficulty, to visit for this purpose 
the province of Chan-Si. 

The Tartar kings sometimes make use of a sepulture which is 
the height of extravagance and barbarism. The royal corpse is con- 
veyed to a vast edifice, constructed of bricks, and adorned with 
numerous statues representing men, lions, elephants, tigers, and 
various subjects of Buddhic mythology. With the illustrious de- 
funct, they biu-y in a large cavern, constructed in the centre of the 
building, large sums of gold and silver, royal robes, precious 
stones, in short, every thing which he may need in another life. 
These monstrous interments sometimes cost the lives of a great 
number of slaves. They take children. of both sexes, remarkable for 
their beauty, and make them swdlow mercury till they are suffo- 
cated ; in this way they preserve, they say, the freshness and 
ruddiness of their countenance, so as to make them appear still 
alive. These unfortunate victims are placed upright, round the 
coipse of their master, continuing, in this fashion, to serve him as 
during life. They hold in their hands the pipe, fan, the small 
])hial of snuff, and the numerous other nick-nacks of the Tartar 

To protect these buried treasures, they place in the cavern a 
kind of bow, capable of discharging a number of arrows, one after 
the other. This bow, or rather these several bows joined together, 
are all bent, and the arrows ready to fly. They place this infernal 
machine in such a manner that, on opening the door of the cavern, 
the movement causes the discharge of the first an-ow at the man 
who enters; the discharge of the first arrow causes the discharge of 
the second, and so on to the last — so that the unlucky person, whom 
covetousness or curiosity should induce to open the door, would 
fall, pierced with many arrows, in the tomb he sought to profane. 
They sell these murderous machines, ready prepared by the bow- 
makers. The Chinese sometimes purchase them, to guard their 
houses in their absence. 

After a march of two days, we entered the district called the 
Kingdom of Efe ; it is a portion of the territory of the Eight Ban- 
ners, which the Emperor Kien-Loug dismembered in favour of a 
prince of the Khalkhas. Sun- Tche, founder of the Mantchou dynasty, 
laid down this maxim : " In the south, establish no kings ; in the 
north, interrupt no alliances." This policy has ever since been 
exactly pursued by the court of Peking. The Emperor Kien-Long, 
in order to attach to his dynasty the prince in question, gave him 
his daughter in marriage, hoping by this means to fix him at Pe- 
king, and thus to weaken the still dreaded power of the Khalkha 
sovereigns. He built for him, within the circuit of the Yellow 


Town itself, a large aud raagnifieent palace, but the Mongol prince 
could not adapt or reconcile himself to the stiff arbitraiy etiquette 
of a coiu-t. Amid the pomp and luxmy accumulated for his enter- 
tainment, he was incessantly absorbed with the thought of his tents 
aud his herds : even the snows and frosts of his country were matters 
of regret. The attentions of the cjDurt being altogether inadequate 
to the dissipation of his ennui, he began to talk about returning to 
his pi-airies in the Khalkhas. On the other hand, his young wife, 
accustomed to the refinements of the court of Peking, could not bear 
"the idea of spending the r^st of her days in the desert, amongst 
milkmaids and shepherds. The Emperor resorted to a compromise 
which suificiently met the washes of his son-in-law, without too 
violently disconcerting the feelings of his daughter. He dismem- 
bered a portion of the Tchakar, and assigned it to the Mongol 
prince ; he built for him, amid these solitudes, a small but handsome 
city, and presented to him a hundred families of slaves skilled in 
the arts and manufactures of China. In this manner, while the 
young Mantchou princess was enabled to dwell in a city and to have 
a court, the Mongol prince, on his part, was in a position to enjoy 
the tranquillity of the Land of Grass, and to resume at will the 
pleasures of nomadic life, in whi<;h he had passed his boyhood. 

The King of Efe brought with him into his petty dominions a 
great number of Mongol Khalkhas, who inhabit, under the tent, the 
country bestowed upon their prince. These Tartars fully maintain 
the reputation for strength and active vigour which is generally at- 
tributed to the men of their nation. They are considered the most 
powerful wrestlers in southern Mongolia. From their infancy, they 
are trained to gymnastic exercises, and at the public wrestUng 
matches, celebrated every year at Peking,, a great niunber of these 
men attend to compete for the prizes, and to sustain the reputation 
of their country. Yet, though far superior in strength to the Chi- 
nese, they are sometimes thrown by the latter, generally more active, 
and especially more tricky. 

In the great match of 1843, a wrestler of the kingdom of Efe 
had overthi'own all competitors, Tartars and Chinese. His body, 
of gigantic proportions, w^as fixed upon legs which seemed immov- 
able columns ; his hands, like great gi'appling uxdus, seized his an- 
tagonists, raised them, and then hurled them to the ground, almost . 
without effort. No person had been at all able to stand befere his 
prodigious sti-ength, and they were about to assign him the prize, 
v^hen a Chinese stepped into tlie ring. He was short, small, meagre, 
and ap)peared calculated for no other purpose than to augment the 
number of the Efeian's victims, He advanoed;, however, with an 
air of firm confidence ; the Goliath of E£e stretched out his brawny 


arms to grasp him, when the Chinese, who had his mouth full of 
water, suddenly discharged the liquid in the giant's face. Tiie 
Tartar mechanically raised his hands to wipe his eyes, and at the 
instant, the cunning Chinese rushed in, caught him round the 
waist, threw him off his balance, and down he went, amid the con- 
vulsive laughter of the spectators. 

This anecdote was told to us by a Tartar horseman who tra- 
velled with us a part of our way through the kingdom of Efe. From 
time to time he showed us children engaged in wrestling. " This," 
said he, " is the favourite exercise with all the inhabitants of our 
kingdom of Efe. We esteem in a man but two things, — his being a 
good horseman and his being a good wrestler." There was one group 
of youthful wrestlers whom, exercising as they were on the side of our 
road, we were enabled to watch closely and at leisure ; their ardour 
redoubled when they saw we were looking at them. The tallest of 
the party, who did not seem more than eight or nine years old, 
took in his arms one of his companions, nearly his own height, 
and very fat, and amused himself with tossing him above his head, 
and catching him again, as you would a ball. He repeated this 
feat seven or eight times, and at every rejtetition we trembled for 
the life of the boy ; but the rest of the children only gamboled 
about, applauding the success of the performers. 

On the 22nd day of the eighth moon, on quitting the petty king- 
dom of Efe, we ascended a mountain, on the sides of which grew 
thickets of fir and birch. The sight of these at first gave us great 
pleasure. The deserts of Tartary are in general so monotonously bare, 
that you cannot fail to experience a pleasurable sensation when you 
come upon some occasional trees on your way. Our first feelings of 
joy were, however, soon demolished by a sentiment of a very dif- 
ferent nature ; we were as though frozen with horror, on perceiving 
at a turn of the mountain, three enormous wolves, that seemed 
awaiting us with calm intrepidity. At sight of these villanous 
beasts we stopped suddenly and as it were instinctively. After a 
moment of general stupor, Samdadchiemba descended from his 
mule, and wrung the noses of our camels. The expedient succeeded 
marvellously ; the poor beasts sent forth such piercing and terrible 
cries, that the scared wolves dashed off with all speed. Arsalan, who 
saw them flee, thinking undoubtedly that it was himself they were 
afraid of, pursued them at the utmost speed of his legs; soon the 
wolves turned round, and our tent-porter would have been infallibly 
devoured had not M. Gabet rushed to his aid, uttering loud cries, 
and wringing the nose of his camel; the wolves having taken flight 
a second time, disappeared without our again thinking of pursuing 


Although the want of populatiou might seem to ahandon the 
interminable deserts of Tartary to wild beasts, wolves are rarely met 
with. This ai'ises, no doubt, from the incessant and vindictive war- 
fare which the Mongols wage against them. They pursue them, 
everywhere, to the death, regarding them as their capital enemy, 
on account of the gi-eat damage they may inflict upon their flocks. 
The announcement that a wolf has made its appearance in a 
neighbourhood, is for eveiy one a signal to mount his horse. As 
there are always near each tent horses ready saddled, in an instant 
the plain is covered with numerous cavalry, all armed with their 
long lasso-pole. The wolf in vain flees in every direction ; it 
meets everywhere horsemen who rush upon it. There is no 
mountain so lugged or arduous, u}) which the Tartar horses, agile 
as goats, cannot pursue it. The horseman who is at length suc- 
cessful in passing round its neck the mnuing knot, gallops off at 
full sjDeed, dragging the wolf after him to the nearest tent ; there 
they strongly bind its muzzle, so that they may torture it se- 
curely; and then, by way of finale, skin it alive, and turn it 
off. In summer, the wretched biute lives in this condition several 
days ; but in winter, exposed without a skin to the rigom's of the 
season, it dies forthwith, frozen with cold. 

Some short time after we had lost sight of our three wolves, we 
bad a singular encounter enough. We saw advancing towards us, on 
the same road, two chariots each drawn by three oxen. To each 
chariot were fastened, with gi-eat iron chains, twelve dogs of a ter- 
rible and ferocious aspect, four on each side, and four behind. 
These carriages were laden with square boxes, painted red ; the 
drivers sat on the boxes. We could not conjecture what was the 
nature of the load, on account of which they thought it essential 
to have this homble escort of Cerberuses. In accordance with the 
customs of the country, we could not question them on this point. 
The slightest indiscretion would have made us pass in their eyes for 
people actuated by evil intentions. We contented ourselves with 
asking if we were still very far from the monasteiy of Tchortchi, 
where we hoped to arrive that day; but the baying of the dogs, and 
the clanking of their chains, prevented us from hearing the answer. 

As we were going through the hollow of a valley, we remarked 
on the summit of an elevated mountain before us a long line 
of objects without motion, and of an indefinite form. By-and- 
by these objects seemed to resemble a formidable battery of can 
nons, ranged in line, and the nearer we advanced, the more were we 
confirmed in this impression. We felt sm'e that we saw distinctly the 
wheels of the carriages, the sponge-rods, the mouths of the cannons 
pointed towai'ds the plain. But how could we bring omselves to 


tliinkthat an army, with all its train of artillery could be 'there 
in the desert, amidst this profound solitude ? Giving way to a thou- 
sand extravagant conjectures, we hastened our progi-ess, impatient 
to examine this strange apparition closely. Our illusion was only 
completely dissipated when we arrived quite at the top of the moun- 
tain. What we had taken for a battery of cannons was a long 
caravan of little Mongol chariots. We laughed at our mistake, but 
the illusion was not an unnatural one, ïhege small two-wheeled 
chariots were all standing still on their frames, each laden with a 
sack of salt, covered with a mat, the ends of which extended be- 
yond the extremities of the sacks, so as to resemble exactly the 
mouths of cannon ; the Mongol waggoners were boiling their tea 
in the open air, whilst their oxen were feeding on the sides of the 
mountain. The transport of merchandise, across the deserts of 
Tartary, is ordinarily effected, in default of camels, by these small two- 
wheeled chariols. A few bars of rough wood are the only materials 
that enter into their construction, and they are so light that 
a child may lift them with ease. The oxen that draw them, have 
all a little iron ring passed through their nostrils ; to this ring 
is a cord, which attaches the animal to the preceding chariot ; thus 
all the carriages, from the first to the last, are connected together, 
and form a long uninterrupted line. The Mongol waggoners are 
generally seated on the oxen, very rarely on the carriage, and scarcely 
ever on foot. On all the chief roads you meet with these long lines 
of carriages, and long before you see them, you hear the lugiibriou. 
and monotonous sound of the great iron bells, which the oxen carry 
suspended from their neck. 

After drinking a cup of tea with the Mongols whom we had 
met in the mountain, we, proceeded on our way; the sun was on the 
point of setting, when we set up our tent on the margin of a stream 
about. a hundred yards from tbe Lamasery of Tchorfcchi. 



Young Lama cMiveited to Christianity — Lamasery of Tchortchi — Alms for the 
Con.3iruction of Religious Houses — Aspect of the Buddhist Temples — Recita- 
tion of Lama Prayers — Decorations, Paintings, and Sculptures of the Budd- 
hist Temples — T-opography of the Grtat Koxiren in the country of the 
Khalkhas — Journey of the Guisori'Tamha to Peking — ^The Kouren of the 
Thousand Lamas — Suit between the Lama-King and his Ministers — Purchase 
ef a Kid — Eagles of Tartary — Western Toumet — x\gricultural Tartars — 
Arrival at the Blue Town — Glance at the Mantchou Nation^ — Mantchou 
Literature— State of Christianity in Mantchouna — Topography and pro- 
ductions- of Eastern Tartaiy — Skill of the Mantchous with the Bow. 

Although we had never -sdsited the Lamasery of Tchortchi, 
we, nevertheless, knew a good deal about it from the information 
that had been given us. It was here that the young Lama was 
educated who came to teacli M. Gabet the MoDgol language, and 
whose conversion to Christianity gave such great hopes for the 
propagation of the gospel among the Tartar tribes. He was 
twenty-five years of age when he quitted his Lamaseiy, in 1837; 
there he had passed fourteen years in the study of Lama books, 
and had become well acquainted with Mongol and Mantchou 
literatme. He had as yet but a very superficial knowledge of the 
Thibetian language. His tutor, an old Lama, well-educated and 
much respected, not merely in the Lamasery, but throughout 
the whole extent of the Yellowish Banner, had cherished great 
hopes of his disciple ; it was, therefore, very reluctantly that he 
had consented to a temporary sepai-ation, which he limited to a 


month. Before his departure the pupil prostrated himself, ac- 
cording to custom, at the feet of his master, and begged him to 
consult for him the Book of Oracles. After having turned over 
some leaves of a Thihetian hook, the old Lama addressed to him 
these words : " For fourteen years thou hast remained by thy 
master's side like a faithful Chahi (disciple). Now, for the first timCj 
thou art about to go from me. The future fills me with anxiety ; 
be careful then to return at the appointed time. If thy absence is 
prolonged beyond one moon thy destiny condemns thee never more 
to set foot in our holy Lamasery." The youthful pupil departed, 
resolved to obey to the letter the instructions of his tutor. 

When he arrived at our mission of Si-Wan, M. Gabet chose, as 
the subject of his Mongol studies, an historical summary of the 
Christian religion. The oral and written conferences lasted nearly 
a month. The young Lama, subdued by the force of truth, pub- 
licly abjured Buddhism, received the name of Paul, and was ulti- 
mately baptized, after a long course of study. The prediction of 
the old Lama had its perfect accomplishment; Paul, since his con- 
version, has never again set foot in the Lamasery which he quitted. 

About 2,000 Lamas inhabit the Lamasery of Tchortchi, which, 
it is said, is the favourite Lamasery of the Emperor, who has 
loaded it with donations and privileges. The Lamas in chirge of 
it all receive a pension from the court of Peking. Ihose who 
absent themselves from it by permission, and for reasons approved 
by the superiors, continue to share in the distributions of money 
and the provisions that are made during their absence; on their 
return they duly receive the full amount of their share. Doubtless 
that air of ease pervading the Lamasery of Tchortchi is to be 
attributed to the imperial favours. The houses in it are neat, 
sometimes even elegant; and you never see there, as in other 
places. Lamas covered with dirty rags. The study of the Mantchou 
language is much cultivated there, an incontestable proof of the 
great devotion of the Lamasery to the reigning dynasty. 

With some rare exceptions the imperial benefactions go very 
little way towards the construction of the Lamaseries. Those 
gi'and and sumptuous monuments, so often met with in the desert, 
are due to the free and spontaneous zeal of the Mongols. So 
simple and economical in their dress and manner of living, these 
people are generous, we might say, astonishingly prodigal in all that 
concerns religious worship and expenditure. Whnn it is resolved 
to construct a Buddhist temple, surrounded by its Lamasery, Lama 
collectors go on their way forthwith, provided with passports, 
attesting the authenticity of their mission. They disperse them- 
selves throughout the kingdom of Tartary, beg alms from tent to 



tent in the name of tlie Old Buddha. Upon entering a tent and 
explaining the object of their joui'ney, by showing ihe sacred basin 
in which the offerings are placed, they are received with Joyful 
enthusiasm. There is no one but gives something. The rich 
place in the *' badir" ingots of gold and silver ; those who do not 
possess the precious metals, offer oxen, horses, or camels. The 
poorest contribute according to the extent of their means; they 
give lumps of butter, furs, ropes made of the hair of camels and 
horses. Thus, in a short time, are collected immense sums. Then, 
in these deseits, apparently so poor, you see lise up, as if by en- 
chantment, edifices whose gi-andeur and wealth would defy the 
resources of the richest potentates. It was, doubtless, in the same 
manner, by the zealous co-operation of the faithful, tliat were con- 
stiTicted in Europe those magnificent cathedrals whose stupendous 
beauty is an abiding reproach to modprn selfishness and indifference. 

The Lamaseries you see in Tartary are all constmcted of brick 
and stone. Only the poorest Lamas build for themselves habita- 
tions of earth, and these are always so well whitewashed that they 
closely resemble the rest. I'he temples are generally built with 
considerable elegance, and with gi-eat sohdity; but these monu- 
ments always seem crushed, being too low in proportion to their 


dimensions. Around the Lamasery rise, numerous- and without 
order, towers or jjyramids, slender and tapering, resting generally 
on huge bases, little in harmony with the tenuity of the con- 
structions they support. It: would be diffieult to say to what 
order of architecture the Buddhic temples of Tartary belong. 
They are always fantastical constructions of monstrous colonnades,, 
peristyles with twisted columns, and endless ascents. Opposite 
the great gate is a kind of altar of wood or stone, usually in the 
fonn of a cone reversed; on this the idols ai-e placed, mostly seated 
oross-legged. These idols are of colossal stature, but their faces 
are fine and regular, except in the preposterous length of the ear»;, 
they belong to the Caucasian type, and are wholly distinct from 
the monstrous, diabolical physiognomies of the Chinese Pou Ssa. 

Before the great idol, and on the same level with it, is a gilt 
seat where the living Fo, the Grand Lama of the Lamasery m 
seated. All around the temple are long tables almost level with 
the ground, a sort of ottomans covered with carpet; and between 
each row there is a vacant space, so that the Lamas may move 
about i-eely. 

When the hour for prayer is come, a Lama, whose office it is 
to summon the guests of the convent, proceeds to the great gate of 
the temple, and blows, as loud as he can, a sea- conch, successively 
towards the four cardinal points. Upon hearing this powerful 
instrument, audible for a league round, the Lamas put on the 
mantle and cap of ceremony and assemble in the gi-eat inner court. 
When the time is come the sea-conch sounds again, the great gate 
is opened, and the living Fo enters the temple. As soon as he is 
seated upon the altar all the Lamas lay their red boots at the ves- 
tibule, and advance barefoot and in silence. As they pass him 
they worshi]) the living Fo by three prostrations, and then place 
themselves uj)on the divan, each according to his dignity. They 
sit cross-legged ; always in a circle. 

As soon as the master of the ceremonies has given the signal, 
by tinkling a little bell, each murmurs in a low voice a preliminary 
prayer, whilst he unrolls, upon his knees, the prayers directed by 
the rubric. After this short recitation, follows a moment of pro- 
found silence; the bell is again rung, and then commences a psalm 
in double chorus, grave and melodious. The Thibetian prayers, 
ordinarily in verse, and written in a metrical and well-cadenced 
style, are marvellously adapted for harmony. At certain pauses, 
indicated by the rubric, the Lama musicians execute a piece of 
music, little in concert with the melodious gravity of the psalmody. 
It is a confused and deafening noise of bells, cymbals, tambourines, 
sea-conchs, trumpets, pipes, &e., each musician pla;ying on his in- 



strument with a kind of ecstatic fuiy, trying with his brethren who 
shall make the greatest noise. 

The interior of the temple is usually filled with ornaments, 
statues, and pictures, illustrating the Ufe of Buddha, and the 
various transmigrations of the more illustrious Lamas. Vases in 
copper, shining like gold, of the size and form of tea- cups, are 
placed in gi-eat numbers on a succession of steps, in the form of an 
amphitheatre, before the idols, it is m these vases that the people 

I>TI,aloa or BtDDHIST TEMPLl! 

deposit their offerings of milk, butter, Mongol wine, and meal. 
The extremities of each step consist of censers, in which are ever 
burning aromatic plants, gathered on the sacred, mountains of 
Thibet. Rich silk stuffs, covered with tinsel and gold embroidery, 
form, on the heads of the idols, canopies from which hang pennants 
and lanterns of painted paper or transparent horn. 

The Lamas are the only artists who contribute to the ornament 


and decoration of the temples. The paintings are quite distinct 
from the taste and the principles of art as understood in Europe. 
The fantastical and the grotesque predominate inside and out, both 
in carvings and statuary, and the personages represented, with the 
exception of Buddha, have generally a monstrous and satanic aspect. 
The clothes seem never to have been made for the persons upon 
whom they are placed. The idea given is that of broken limbs con- 
cealed beneath awkward garments. 

Amongst these Lama paintings, however, you sometimes come 
across specimens by no means destitute of beauty. One day, during 
a visit in the kingdom of Gechekten to the gi-eat temple called 
Alton-Somné (Temple of Gold), we saw a picture which struck us 
with astonishment. It was a large piece representing, in the centre, 
Buddha seated on a rich carpet. Around this figure, which was 
of hfe size, there was a sort of glory, composed of miniatures, allé 
gorically expressing the Thousand Virtues of Buddha. We could 
scarcely withdraw ourselves from this picture, remarkable as it was, 
not only for the purity and grace of the design, but also for the 
expression of the faces and the splendour of the colouring. All the 
personages seemed full of life. We asked an old Lama, who was 
attending us over the place, what he knew about this admirable 
work. " Sirs," said he, raising his joined hands to his forehead in 
token of respect, " this picture is a treasure of the remotest antiquity; 
it comprehends within its surface the whole doctrine of Buddha. 
It is not a Mongol painting; it came from Thibet, and was executed 
by a saint of the Eternal Sanctuary." 

The artists here are, in general, more successful in the landscapes 
than in the epic subjects. Flowers, birds, trees, mythological animals, 
are represented with great truth and with infinitely pleasing effect. 
The colouring is wonderfully full of life and freshness. It is only 
a pity that the painters of these landscapes have so very indifierent 
a notion as to perspective and chiaro-oscuro. 

The Lamas are far better sculptors than painters, and they are 
accordingly very lavish of carvings in their Buddhist temples. 
Everywhere in and about these edifices you see works of this class of 
art, in quantity bespeaking the fecundity of the artist's chisel, but of a 
quality which says little for liis taste. First, outside the temples are 
an infinite number of tigers, lions, and elephants crouching upon 
blocks of granite ; then the stone balustrades of the steps leading 
to the great ^ates are covered with fantastic sculptures representing 
birds, reptiles, and beasts, of all kinds, real and imaginary. Inside, 
the walls are decorated witii relievos in wood or stone, executed 
with great spirit and truth. 

Though the Mongol Lamaseries cannot be compared, in point 


either of exteat or wealth, with those of Thibet, there are some of 
them which are highly celebrated and greatly venerated among the 
adorers of Buddha. 

The most famous of all is that of. the Great Kouren (enclo- 
sure), in the country of the Khalkhas. As we had an opportunity 
of visiting tliis ediâce in oneof our jomnies into Northern Tartary, 
we will here give some details respecting it. It stands on the bauk 
of the river Toula, at the entrance to an immense forest, which 
extends thence northwards, six or seven days' journey to the con 
fines of Russia, and eastward, nearly five hundi-ed miles to the land 
of the Solons, in Mantchomia. On your way to the Great Kouren, 
over the desert of Gobi, you have to traverse, for a whole mouth, 
an ocean of sand, the mournful monotony of which is not relieved 
by a single stream or a single shrub ; but on reaching the Kougour 
mountains, the western boundary of the states of the Guison-Tamba, 
er King-Lama, the scene changes to pictm-esque and fertile valleys, 
and verdant pasture-hills, crowned with forests that seem as old. as 
the world itself. Through the largest valley flows tlie river Toula, 
which, rising in the Barka mountains, runs from east to west 
through the pastures of the Lamasery, and then entering Siberia, 
falls into Lake Baikal. 

The Lamasery stands on the northern bank of the river, on the 
slope of a mountain. The various temples inhabited by the Guison- 
Tamba, and other Grand Lamas, ai'e distinguishable from the rest 
of the structure by their elevation and their gdded roofs. Thirty 
thousand Lamas dwell in the Lamasery itself, or in smaller Lama- 
series erected about it. The plain adjoining it is always covered 
with the tents of the pilgiims- who resort hither from all paits to 
worship Buddha, Here you find the U-Pi-Ta-Dze, or " Fish-skin 
Tai'tai'S," encamped beside the Torgot Tartars from the smnmits of 
the sacred mountains (Bokte-Oula), the Thibetians and the Péboum 
of the Himalaya, with their long-haii'ed oxen, mingling with the 
Mantchous from the banks of the Songari and Amor. There is an 
incessant movement of tents set up and taken down, and of pil- 
grims coming and going on horses, camels, oxen, mules, or wag- 
gons, and on foot. 

Viewed from the distance, the white cells of the Lamas, built in 
horizontal lines one above the other on the sides of the mountain, 
seem the steps of a gi-and altai', of which the tabernacle is the 
temple of the Guison-Tamba. In the depths of that sanctuary, all 
resplendent with gold and bright eolom-ing, the Lama-King, The 
Holy, as he is called, par excellence^ receives the homage of the 
faithful, ever prosti-ate, in succession, before him. There is not a 
Khalkha Tartar who does not glory in the title of the Holy One's 


Disciple. Wherever you meet a man from the district of the Great 
Kouren, and ask him who he is, his proud reply is always this: 
Koure Bolcte-Ain Chahi, (1 am a disciple of the Holy Kouren.) 

Half-a-league from the Lamasery, on the banks of the Toula, 
is a commercial station of Chinese. Their wooden or mud huts 
are fortified by a circle of high palisades to keep out the pilgrims, 
who, despite their devotion, are extremely given to thieving when 
ever the opportunity occurs. A watch and some ingots of silver, 
stolen during the night from M. Gabet, left us no doubt as to the 
want of j^robity in the Holy One's disciples. 

A good deal of trade is earned on here, Chinese and Russian 
goods changing hands to a very large extent. The payments of 
the former are invariably made in tea-bricks. Whether the article 
sold be a house, a horse, a camel, or a bale of goods, the price is 
settled for in bricks of tea. Five of these represent, in value, an 
ounce of silver ; the monetary system, therefore, which Franklin 
so much disliked, is not in use by these Northern Tartars. 

The Court of Peking entertains several Mandarins at the Great 
Kouren, ostensibly for tlie j)nrpose of preserving order among the 
Chinese traders, but in reality to keep a watch upon the Guison- 
Tamba, always an object of suspicion to the Chinese Emperors, 
who bear in mind that the famous Tching-Kis-Khan wasaKhalkha, 
and that the memory of his conquests has not passed away from 
the hearts of this warlike people. The slightest movement at the 
Great Kouren excites alarm at Peking. 

In 1839 the Guison-Tamba announced his intention of paying 
a visit to the Emperor Tao-Kouan. The Court of Peking became 
horribly alarmed, and negociators were dispatched to divert, if pos- 
sible, the Guison-Tamba from his journey; but all they could effect 
was, that he should be attended by only 3,000 Lamas, and that 
three other Khalkha sovereigns who were to have accompanied him 
should be left behind. 

Immediately upon the Guison-Tamba's departure on his pro- 
gress, all the tribes of Tartary put themselves in motion, and took 
up positions on the road he was to travel, in vast multitudes, each 
tribe bringing for his acceptance offerings of horses, oxen, sheep, 
gold and silver bullion, and precious stones. Wells were dug for 
him at intervals throughout the length of the great desert of Gobi, 
and at each of these were placed for his use, by the chieftain of the 
particular locality, a store of provisions of all sorts. The Lama King 
was in a yellow palanquin, carried by four horses, each led by a 
dignitary of the Lamasery. The escort of 3,000 Lamas were 
before, behind, and on each side of the palanquin, jovially dashing 
about on horses and camels. The road almost throughout was 


lined with spectators, or rather with worshippers, eagerly awaiting 
the anival of the Holy, and upon his approach, falling, first on 
their knees, and then on their faces, before him, their hands crossed 
over the head. It seemed the progress of a divinity come upon 
earth to bless its people. On reaching the Great Wall, the Guison- 
Tamba, ceasing to be a divinity, became only the chief of some 
nomad tribes, scorned by the people of China, but feared by the 
Court of China, more alive to political contingencies. Only one 
half of the 3,000 Lamas were permitted to attend their chief 
further, the rest remaining encamped north of the Great Wall. 

The Guison-Tamba sojourned at Peking for three months, re- 
ceiving an occasional visit fi'om the Emperor, a id the Grand 
Dignitaries. He then relieved the celestial city from his trouble- 
some presence, and after paying visits to the Lamaseries of the 
Five Towers, and of the Blue Town, set out on his return to his own 
states, when he died, the victim, it was asserted, of a slow poison 
that had been administered to him by order of the Emperor. The 
Khalkhas, however, were more irritated than intimidated by his 
death, for they are persuaded that their Guison-Tamba never 
actually dies. All he does, when he appears to die, is to transmi 
grate to some other country, whence he returns to them younger, 
more vigorous, more active than ever. In 1844, accordingly, they 
were told that their living Buddha was incarnate in Thibet, and 
they went thither, in solemn procession, to fetch the child of five 
years old who was indicated to them, and to place him on his im- 
perishable throne. While we were encamped at Kou-Kou-Noor, on 
the banks of the Blue Sea, we saw pass by us the great caravan of 
Khalkhas, who were on their way to LhaSsa to bring home the 
Lama-King of the Great Kouren. 

The Kouren of the Thousand Lamas — Mingan Lamané Kourè — 
is also a celebrated Lamaseiy, which dates from the invasion of 
China by the Mantchous. When Tchun-Tche,^ founder of the 
dynasty now reigning in China, descended from the forests of Mant- 
chouria to march upon Peking, he met on his way a Lama of 
Thibet, whom he consulted as to the issue of his enteii)rise. The 
Lama promised him complete success, whereupon Tchun-Tche 
ordered him to come and see him when he should be installed at 
Peking. After the Mantchous had rendered themselves masters 
of the capital of the empire, the Lama did not fail to keep his ap- 
pointment. The Emperor at once recognised the j)erson who had 
favoured him with such an auspicious horoscope ; and, in token of 

1 The anecdote, -which we give as we heard it, must have reference to Tchun- 
Tche's father, who died immediately after the conquest. T(;hun-Tche himself 
was only four years old at the time. 


his gratitude, allotted to him a large extent of land v/hereon to con- 
struct a Lamasery, and revenues sufficient for the support of a 
thousand Lamas. From the time of its erection, however, the 
Lamaseiy of the Thousand Lamas has grown and grown, so that 
at present it contains more than four thousand Lamas, though its 
original designation still remains. By degrees, traders have estah- 
lished themselves around it, and have built a considerable town, 
jointly occupied by Chinese and by Tartars. The principal com- 
merce of the place is in beasts. 

The Grand Lama of the Lamasery is, at the same time, sove- 
reign of the district. It is he who makes laws, who administers 
justice, and who appoints magistrates. When he dies, his subjects 
go and seek for him in Thibet, where he is always understood to 
metempsychosise himself. 

At the time of our visit to the Kouren of the Thousand Lamae, 
everything was in utter confusion, by reason of a suit between the 
Lama King and his four ministers, who are called, in the Mongol 
language, Dchassak. The latter had taken upon themselves to 
marry, and to build houses for themselves apart fi-om the Lamaseiy, 
things altogether subversive of Lama discipline. The Grand Lama 
essayed to bring them to order; the four Dchassak, instead of 
submitting, had collected a whole heap of grievances, upon which 
they framed an accusation against their chief before the Tou-Toun, 
the high Mantchou Mandarin, who acts as Secretary-of-State for the 
Tartar department. 

The suit had been under prosecution two months when we 
visited the Lamasery, and we soon saw how the establishment was 
suffering from the absence of its principals. Study or prayer there 
was none; the great outer gate was open, and seemed not to have 
been closed at all for some time past. We entered the interior; all 
we found there was silence and solitude. The grass was growing 
in the courts, and upon the walls. The doors of the temples were 
padlocked, but through the gi-atings we could see that the seats, the 
altars, the paintings, the statues, were all covered with dust; every- 
thing manifested that the Lamasery had been for some time in a 
state of utter neglect. The absence of the superiors, and the un- 
certainty as to the result of the suit, had imloosened all the bonds 
of discipline. The Lamas had dispersed, and people began to 
regard the very existence of the Lamaseiy as extremely compro- 
mised. We have since heard that, thanks to enormous bribery, the 
suit terminated in favour of the Lama King, and that the four 
Dchassak were compelled to conform themselves in all respects to 
the orders of their sovereign. 

We may add to the enumeration of the many celebrated Lama- 


series, those of Blue Town, of Tolon-Noor, of Gé-Ho-Eul ; and within 
the Great Wall, that of Peking, and that of the Five Towers in Chan-Si. 

After quitting the Lamaseiy of Tchortchi, just as we were enter 
in g upon the Eed Banner, we met a Mougol hunter, who was 
carrying behind him, on his horse, a fine roebuck he had just 
killed. We had been so long reduced to our insipid oatmeal, 
seasoned with a few bits of mutton fat, that the sight of the venison 
inspired us with a somewhat decided desire to vaiy our entertain- 
ment; we felt, moreover, that our stomachs, weakened by our daily 
privations, imperiously demanded a more substantial alimentation. 
After saluting the hunter, therefore, we asked him if he was dis- 
posed to sell his venison. " Sirs Lamas," replied he, "when I placed 
myself in ambush to await the deer, I had no thought of trading 
in my head. The Chinese carmen, stationed up yonder beyond 
Tchortchi, wanted to buy my game for four hundred sapeks, but 
I said No ! But to you. Sirs Lamas, I speak not as to Kitat ; there is 
my roebuck: give me what you please for it." We told Samdad- 
cbiemba to pay the hunter five hundred sapeks : and hanging the 
venison over the neck of one of the camels, we proceeded on our way. 

Five hundred sapeks are equivalent to about 2s. Id., and this 
is the ordinary price of a roebuck in Tartary ; the price of a sheep 
is thrice that amount. Venison is little esteemed by the Tartars, 
and still less by the Chinese ; black meat, say they, is never so 
good as white. Yet in the larger cities of China, and especially at 
Peking, black meat has honourable place on the tables of the rich 
and of the mandaiins ; a circumstance, however, to be attributed to 
the scarcity of the article, and a desire for variety. The Mantchous, 
indeed, do not come within the preceding observation ; for, great 
lovers of hunting, they are also gi"eat lovers of its produce, and 
especially of bears, stags, and pheasants. 

It was just past noon when we came to a spot marvellously 
beautiful. After passing through a narrow opening between two 
rocks, whose summits seemed lost in the clouds, we found ourselves 
in a large enclosure, suiTounded by lofty hills, on which grew a 
number of scattered pines. An abundant fountain supplied a 
small stream, whose banks were covered with angelica and wild 
mint. The rivulet, after making the circuit of the enclosure, amid 
rich grass, had its issue thence by an opening similar to that by 
which we had entered the place. No sooner had a glance compre- 
hended the attractions of the spot, than Samdadchiemba moved 
that we should at once set up oiu tent there. " Let us go no fur- 
ther to-day," said he; "let us encamp here. We have not gone 
far this morning, it is true, and the sun is still very high; but we 
have got the venison to prepare, and should therefore encamp 


earlier than usual." No one opposing the honourable gentleman's 
motion, it was put and carried unanimously, and we proceeded to 
set up oiu' tent by the side of the spring. 

Samdadchiemba had often talked of his gi'eat dexterity in 
the dissection of animals, and he was delighted with this oppor- 
tunity of displaying his excellence in this respect. Having sus- 
pended the roebuck from a pine-branch, sharpened his knife upon 
a tent-pin, and turned up his sleeves to the elbow, he asked whether 
we would have the animal dismembered à la Chinoise, à la Turque, 
or à la Tartar e. Unprovided with any reason for preferring any one 
of these modes to the other two, we left it to Samdadchiemba to 
obey the impulse of his genius in the matter. In a minute he had 
skinned and gutted the animal, and he then cut away the flesh 
from the bones, in one piece, without separating the limbs, so as to 
leave suspended from the tree merely the skeleton of the deer. 
This, it appeared, was the Tm-kish fashion, in use upon long jour- 
neys, in order to relieve travellers from the useless burden of bones. 

This operation completed, Samdadchiemba cut some slices of 
venison and proceeded to fry them in mutton fat, a manner of pre 
paring venison not perhaps in strict accordance with the rules of 
the culinary art; but the difficulty of the circumstances did not 
allow us to do better. Our banquet was soon ready, but, contrary 
to our expectations, we were not the first to taste it; we bad seated 
ourselves triangularly on the grass, having in the midst the lid of 
the pot, which served us as a dish, when all of a sudden we heard, 
as it were, the rushing of a storm over our heads : a great eagle 
dashed, like a lightning stroke, upon our entertainment, and imme- 
diately rose with equal rapidity, bearing off in each claw a large 
slice of venison. Upon recovering from our friglit at this sudden 
incident, we ourselves were fain to laugh at the ludicrous aspect of 
the matter, but Samdadchiemba did not laugh by any means; he 
was in a paroxysm of fury, not indeed at the loss of the veiiison, but 
because the eagle, in its flight, had insolently dealt him a sound 
box on the ear with the extremity of its great wings. 

This event served to render us more cautious on the following 
venison days. During our previous journeyings we had, indeed, 
on several occasions observed eagles hovering over our heads at 
meal-times, but no accident of this kind had occurred ; probably 
the royal birds had scorned our mere oatmeal repasts. 

You see the eagle almost everywhere throughout the deserts of 
Tartary; sometimes hovering and making large circles in the air, 
sometimes perched upon a rising ground, motionless as the hillock 
itself. No one in these countries hunts the eagle or molests it in 
any way ; it may make its nest where it pleases, and there bring 


up its eaglets, and itself grow old, without being in the smallest 
degi-ee interfered udth by man. You often see before you an eagle 
resting on the plain, and looking there larger than a sheep ; as you 
approach, before rising, it leisurely moves along the ground, beating 
its wings, and then, by degrees ascending, it attains the altitude 
where it can fly in all its grandeur and power. 

After several days journey we quitted the country of the Eight 
Banners and entered Western Toumet. At the time of the conquest 
of China by the Mantclious, the king of Toumet, having distin- 
guished himself in the expedition as an auxiliary of the invaders, 
the conqueror, in order to evince liis gratitude for the services 
which the prince had rendered him, gave him the fine districts 
situated north of Peking, beyond the Great Wall. From that period 
they have borne the name of Eastern Toumet, and Old Toumet 
took that of Western Toumet; the two Toumets are separated from 
each other by the Tchakar Kiver. 

The Mongol Tartars of Western Toumet do not lead the pastoral 
and nomadic life ; they cultivate theii' lands and apply themselves 
to the arts of civilized nations. We had been for nearly a month 
traversing the desert, setting-up our tent for the night in the first 
convenient place we found, and accustomed to see nothing but, 
above us the sky, and below and around us interminable prairies. 
We had long, as it were, broken with the world, for all we had seen 
of mankind had been a few Tartar horsemen dashing across the 
Land of Grass, hke so many birds of passage. Without suspecting 
it, our tastes had insensibly become modified, and the desert of 
Mongolia had created in us a temperament friendly to the tran- 
quillit}^ of solitude. When, therefore, we found ourselves amid the 
cultivation, the movement, the bustle,, the confusion of civilized 
existence, we felt, as it were, oppressed, suffocated; we seemed gasping 
for breath, and as though every moment we were going to be stifled. 
This impression, however, was evanescent; and we soon got to 
think that, after all, it was more comfortable and more agreeable, 
after a day's march, to take up our abode in a warm, well-stored 
inn, than to have to set up a tent, to collect fuel, and to prepare 
our own veiy meagie repast, before we could take oui- rest. 

The inhabitants of Western Toumet, as may well be imagined, 
have completely lost the stamp of their original Mongol character; 
they have all become, more or less, Chinese ; many of them do not 
even know a word of the Mongol language. Some, indeed, do not 
scruple to express contempt for their brothers of the desert, who 
refuse to subject then- prairies to the ploughshare; they say, how 
ridiculous is it for men to be always vagabondizing about, and to 
have merely wretched tents wherein to shelter their heads, when 




they might so easily build houses, and obtain wealth and comforts 
of all kinds from the land beneath their feet. And, indeed, the 
Western Toumetians are perfectly right in preferring the occupation 
of agriculturist to that of shepherd, for they have magnificent 
plains, well watered, fertile, and favourable to the production of all 
kinds of grain crops. When we passed through the countiy, 
harvest was over; but the gi'eat stacks of corn that we saw in 
all directions told us that the produce had been abundant and 
fine. Everything throughout Western Toumet bears the impress 
of afQuence; nowhere, go in what direction you may, do you see 
the wretched tumble-down houses that disfigure the highways and 
by-ways of China ; nowhere do you see the miserable, half-starved, 
half- clothed creatures that pain the hearts of travellers in every 
other country : all the peasants here are well fed, well lodged, and 
well clothed. All the villages and roads are beautified with groups 
and avenues of fine trees ; whereas, in the other Tartar regions, 
cultivated by the Chinese, no trees are to be seen ; trees are not 
even planted, for everybody knows they would be pulled up next 
day by some miserable pauper or other, for fuel. 

We had made three days' journey through the cultivated lands 
of the Toumet, when we entered Kou-Kou-Hute (Blue Town), called 


in Chinese Koni-Hoa-Tchen. There are two towns of the same 
name, five lis distant from one another. The peojile distinguish 
them by calHng the one " Old Town," and the other " New Town," 
or " Commercial Town," and " Military Town." We first entered 
the latter, which was built by the Emperor Khang-Hi, to defend 
the empire against its northern enemies. The town has a beautiful, 
noble appearance, which might be admired in Eiu'ope itself. We 
refer, however, only to its circuit of embattled walls, made of brick; 
for inside, the low houses, built m the Chinese style, are httle in 
imison with the lofty, huge ramparts that surround them. The 
interior of the town ofiers nothing remarkable but its regularity, 
and a large and beautiful street, which runs through it from east 
to west. A Kiang-Kian, or militaiy commandant, resides here 
with 10,000 soldiers, who are drilled eveiy day; so that the town 
may be regarded as a garrison town. 

The soldiers of the New Town of Koukou Khoton are Mant- 
chou Tartars; but if you did not previously know the fact, you 
would scarcely suspect it from hearing them speak. Amongst 
them there is perhaps not a single man who understands the lan- 
guage of his own country. Already two ages have passed away 
since the Mantcheus made themselves masters of the vast empire 
of China, and you would say that during these two centuries they 
have been unceasingly working out their own annihilation. Their 
manners, their language, their veiy country — all has become 
Chinese. It may now be afiirmed that Mantchou nationality lias 
become irremediably annihilated. In order to account for this 
strange counter-revolution, and to understand how the Chinese have 
been able to fuse their conquerors with themselves, and to get pos- 
session of Mantchouria, we must look some way back, and enter 
somewhat into detail. 

In the time of the Ming d\Tiasty, which flourished in China 
from 1368 to 1644, the Mantchous, or Eastern Tartars, after a long 
series of internal wars, concurred in the selection of a chief, who 
united all the tribes into one, and established a kingdom. From 
that time this ferocious and barbarian people insensibly acquired 
an importance which gave great umbrage to the Court of Peking ; 
and in 161S its power was so well established, that its king did not 
fear to transmit to the Emperor of China the statement of seven 
grievances which, he said, he had to avenge. The daring manifesto 
finished with these words : " And in order to avenge these seven 
injuries, I will reduce and subjugate the dynasty of the Ming.'" 
Shortly afterwards the empire was convulsed with revolts in all 
directions ; the rebel chief besieged Peking, and took it. There- 
upon the Emperor, despahing of his fortune, hanged himself from 





a tree in the Imperial garden, leaving near him these words, written 
in his own hlood : " Since the empire is falling, the Emperor, too, 
must fall." Ou-San-Koueï, the Imperial general, called in the 
Mantchous to aid him in reducing the rebels. The latter were put 
to flight, and while the Chinese general was pursuing them south 
ward, the Tartar chief returned to Peking, and finding the throne 
vacant, assumed it. 

Previous to this event, the Great Wall, carefully maintained by 
the Ming dynasty, had kept the Mantchous from entering China, 
while, reciprocally, the Chinese were forbidden to enter Mant- 
chouria. After the Mantchou conquest of the empire, however, 
there was no longer any frontier separating the two nations. The 
Great Wall was freely passed, and the communication between the 


two countries once thrown open, the Chinese populations of Pe- 
Tchi-Li and Chan-Toung, lutherto confined within their narrow 
provinces, biu'st hlce torrents upon Mantchouria. The Tai-tar chief 
had been considered the sole master, the sole possessor of the lands 
of his kingdom ; but, established as Emperor of China, he distri- 
buted his vast possessions among the Mantchous, upon the condi- 
tion that they should pay him heavy rents for them every year. 
By means of usury and cunning, and persevering machinations, 
the Chinese have since rendered themselves masters of all the lands 
of their conquerors, leaving to tiiem merely their empty titles, their 
onerous statutoiy laboin-, and the payment of oppressive rents. 
The quality of Mantchou has thus by degrees become a very costly 
afiair, and many, of consequence, seek altogether to abnegate 
it. According to the law, there is, every third year, a census made 
of the population of each banner, and all persons who do not cause 
their names to be inscribed on the roll, are deemed no longer to 
belong to the Mantchou nation ; those, therefore, of the Mantchous 
whose indigence induces them to desu-e exemption from statute 
laboiu- and military service, do not present themselves to the census 
enumerators, and by that omission enter the ranks of the Chinese 
people. Thus, while, on the one hand, constant migration has 
carried beyond the Great Wall a gi-eat number of Chinese, on the 
other, a gi-eat number of Mantchous have voluntarily abdicated 
their nationality. 

The decline, or rather the extinction of the Mantchou nation, 
is now progressing more rapidly than ever. Up to the reign of 
Tao-Kouan, the regions watered by the Songari were exclusively 
inhabited by Mantchous: enti'ance into those vast districts was 
prohibited to the Chinese, and no man was permitted to cultivate 
the soil within their range. At the commencement of the present 
reign, these districts were put up for public sale, in order to supply 
the defi(;iency in the Imperial treasury. The Chinese rushed upon 
them like birds of prey, and a few years sufficed to remove every 
thing that could in any way recal the memory of their ancient pos- 
sessors. It would be vain for anyone now to seek in Mautchouria a 
single town, a single viDage, that is not composed entirely of Cliinese. 

Yet, amid the general transformation, there are still a few tribes, 
such as the SiPo and the Solon, which faithfully retain the 
Mantchou type. Up to the present day their territories have been 
invaded neither by the Chinese nor by cultivation ; they continue 
to dwell in tents and to furnish soldiers to the Imperial armies. It 
has been remarked, however, that their frequent appearance at 
Peking, and their long periods of service in the provincial garrisons, 
are beginning to make terrible inroads upon theii- habits and tastes. 


Wheu the Mantchous conquered China, they imposed upon the 
conquered people a portion of their dress and many of their usages. 
Tobacco smoking, for example, and the manner of dressing the 
hair, now in use by the Chinese, came to- them from the Mantchou 
Tartars. But the Chinese,, in their turn, did; far more than this ; 
they managed to make their conquerors adopt their manners and 
their language. You may now traverse Mantchouria to the river 
Amour, without being at all aware that you are not travelling in a 
province of China. The local colouring has become totally effaced. 
With the exception of a few nomadic tribes no one speaks Mantchou : 
and there would, perhaps, remain no trace of this fine language, 
had not the Emperors Khang-Hi and Kien-Loung erected, in its 
honour, monuments imperishable in themselves, and which will 
ever attract the attention of European orientalists. 

At one time the Mantchous had no writing of their own ; it was 
not until 1624, that Tai-TsouKao-Hoang-Ti, chief of the Eastern 
Tartars, directed several learned persons of his nation to design a 
system of letters for the Mantchous, upon the model of those of the 
Mongols. Subsequently, in 1641, a m^an of great genius, named 
Tahai, perfected the work, and gave to the Mantchou system of 
letters the elegance, clearness, and refinement which now charac- 
terize it. 

Chun-Tche had the finest productions of Chinese literature 
translated into Mantchou. Khang-Hi established an academy of 
learned persons, equally versed in the Chinese and Tartar lan- 
guages, whom he employed upon the translation of classical and 
historical works, and in the compilation of several dictionaries. In 
order to express novel objects and the various conceptions pre- 
viously unknown to the Mantchous, it was necessary to invent 
terms, borrowed, for the most part, from the Chinese, and adapted, 
by slight alterations, as closely as possible, to the Tartar idiom. 
This process, however, tending to destroy, by imperceptible degrees, 
the originality of the Mantchou language, the Emperor Kien-Loung, 
to avert the danger, had a Mantchou dictionary compiled, from 
which all Chinese words were excluded. The compilers went about 
questioning old men and other Mantchous deemed most conversant 
with their mother-tongue, and rewards were given to such as brought 
forward an obsolescent word or expression which was deemed 
worthy of revival and perpetuation in the dictionary. 

Thanks to the solicitude and enlightened zeal of the first sove- 
reigns of the present dynasty, there is now no good Chinese book 
which has not been translated into Mantchou; and all these trans- 
lations are invested with the greatest possible authenticity, as 
having been executed by learned academies, by order and under 


the immediate auspices of several emperors : and as having, more- 
over, heen suhseqiiently revised and corrected by other academies, 
equally learned, and whose members were versed alike in the 
Chinese language and in the Mantchou idiom. 

The Mantchou language has attained, by means of all these 
learned labours, a solid basis; it may, indeed, become no longer 
spoken, but it will ever remain a classic tongue, and ever be of 
most imjiortant aid to pliilologers applying their studies to the 
Asiatic tongues. Besides numerous and faithful translations of the 
best Chinese books, the Mantchou language possesses versions of 
the principal productions in the Lamanesque, Thibetian,. and Mant- 
chou literature. A few years labom' will thus suffice to place the 
diligent student of Mantchou in full possession of all the most 
precious monuments of Eastern Asiatic literature. 

The Mantchou language is sonorous, harmonious, and, above 
all, singularly clear. Its study is now rendered easy and agreeable 
by H. Conon de la Gabelentz^s " Elemens de la Grammaire Mant- 
chou," published at Altemburg, in Saxony, and which develops, 
with happy lucidity, the mechanism and rules of the language. 
The excellent work of this learned orientalist cannot fail to be of 
great assistance to all who desire to apply themselves to the study 
of a language menaced with extinction in the veiy countiy which 
gave it birth, but which France, at least, will preserve for the use 
of the world of letters. M. Conon de la Gabelentz says, in the 
preface to his gi-ammar: "I have selected the French language in 
the preparation of my work, because France is, as yet, the only 
European country in which Mantchou has been cultivated, so tliat 
it seems to me indispensable that all who desne to study this 
idiom should first know French, as being the tongue in which are 
composed the only European works which relate to Mantchou 

While the French missionai'ies were enriching their country 
with the Uterary treasures which they found in these remote regions, 
they were, at the same time, ardently engaged in difiusing the light 
of Christianity amid these idolatrous nations, whose religion is 
merely a monstrous medley of doctrines and practices borrowed at 
once from Lao-Tseu, Confucius, and Buddha. 

It is well known that in the earher years of the present dynasty, 
these missionaries had, by their talents, acquii*ed great influence at 
coui't ; they always accompanied the Emperors in the long and fre- 
quent joiuTieys which at that period they were accustomed to make 
into the regions of their ancient rule. These zealous preachers of 
the gospel never failed on all such occasions to avail themselves of 
the protection and influence they enjoyed, as a means for sowing, 


wherever they went, the seeds of the true faith. Such was the first 
origin of the introduction of Christianity into Mantchouria. They 
reckoned at first but few neophytes; but the number of these was 
insensibly augmented afterwards by the migrations of the Chinese, 
in which were always to be found several Christian families. 
These missions formed part of the diocese of Peking until within 
a few years past; then the Bishop of Nanking, administrator of the 
diocese of Peking, finding himself nigh the close of his career, and 
fearing that the political commotions of which Portugal, his native 
country, was at that time the theatre, would preclude the Portu- 
guese church from sending an adequate number of labourers to 
cultivate the vast field which had been confided to him, communi- 
cated his apprehensions to the Sacred College de Propaganda Fide, 
and earnestly entreated its members to take under their especial 
attention a harvest, already ripe, but which was under peril of 
destruction, for want of husbandmen to gather it in. The sacred 
congregation, touched with the anxiety of this venerable and 
zealous old man, among its other arrangements for meeting the 
requirements of these unfortunate missions, dismembered Mant- 
chouria from the diocese of Peking, and erected it into an Apostolic 
Vicariat, which was confided to the charge of the Foreign Mission- 
ary Society. M. Verolles, Bishop of Colombia, was made the new 
Vicar Apostolic. Nothing less than the patience, the devotion, the 
every virtue of an apostle, was essential for the due administration 
of this Christendom. The prejudices of the neophytes, not as yet 
brought within the rules of ecclesiastical discipline, were, for M. 
Veiolles, obstacles more difiicult to overcome than even the rugged- 
ness of heart of the pagans; but his experience and his wisdom 
soon triumphed over all impediments. The mission has assumed a 
new form ; the number of Christians is annually augmenting ; and 
there is now every hope that the Apostohc Vicariat of Mantchouria 
will become one of the most flourishing missions in Asia. 

Mantchouria is bounded on the north by Siberia, on the south 
by the Gulf Phou-Hai and Corea, on the east by the sea of Japan, 
and on the west by Kussian Dauria and Mongolia. 

Moukden, in Chinese Chen-Yan, is the chief town of Mant- 
chouria, and may be considered the second capital of the Chinese 
empire. The Emperor has a palace and coui'ts of justice there on 
the model of those at Peking. Moukden is a large and fine city, 
surrounded by thick and lofty ramparts; the streets are broad 
and regular, and less dirty and tumultuous than those of Peking. 
One entire quarter is appropriated to the princes of the Yellow 
Girdle; that is, to the members of the Imperial family. They are 
all under the direction of a giand Mandarin, who is entrusted with 


the inspection of their conduct, and empowered summaiily to 
punish any offences they may commit. 

After Moukden, the most remarkable towns are Ghirin, sur 
rounded by high wooden palisades, and Ningouta, the native place 
of the reigning Imperial family. Lao-yan, Kai-Tcheou, and Kin- 
Tcheou, are remarkable for the extensive commerce their maritime 
position biings them. 

Mantchouria, watered by a gi'eat number of streams and rivers, 
is a country naturally fertile. Since the cultivation has been in 
the hands of the Chinese, the soil has been enriched by a large 
number of the products of the interior. In the southern part, they 
cultivate successfully the di-y lice, or that which has no need of 
watering, and the Imperial rice, discovered by the Emperor Khang- 
Hi. These two sorts of rice would certainly succeed in France. 
They have also abundant hai'vests of millet, of Kao-Léang^or Indian 
com [Holcus Sorghum), from which they distil excellent brandy; 
sesamum, linseed, hemp, and tobacco, the best in the whole Chinese 

The IVl antchourians pay especial attention to the cultivation of 
the herbaceous-stemmed cotton plant, which produces cotton in 
exti'aordinary abundance. A Meou of these plants, a space of about 
fifteen square feet, ordinarily produces 2,000 lbs. of cotton. The 
fi'uit of the cotton-tree grows in the form of a cod or shell, and 
attains the size of a hazel nut. As it ripens, the cod opens, divides 
into three parts, and develops three or four small tufts of cotton 
which contain the seeds. In order to separate the seed, they make 
use of a sort of little bow, firmly strung, the cord of which vibrating 
over the cotton tufts removes the seeds, of which a portion is retained 
for next year's sowing, and the rest is made into oil, resembling lin- 
seed oil. The upper poilion of Mantchouria, too cold to grow 
cotton, has immense harvests of corn. 

Besides these productions, common to China, Mantchouria 
possesses thi-ee treasures^ peculiar to itself : jin-seng, sable fur, and 
the grass Oui a. 

The fii'st of these productions has been long known in Em-ope, 
though om' leai-ned Academy there ventured some years ago to 
doubt its existence, Jin-seng is perhaps the most considerable aiticle 
of Mantchourian commerce. Throughout China there is no chemist's 
shop unprovided with more or less of it. 

The root of jin-seng is straight, spindle-shaped, and veiy knotty ; 
seldom so large as one's little finger, and in length from two to three 
inches. When it has undergone its fitttog preparation, its colour 

1 The Chinese designate ihem San Pao ; the Mantchous, Ilan Baobai ; the 
Mongols, Korban enleni ; and the Thibetians, Tchok-Soum. 



is a transparent white, with sometimes a slii^ht red or yellow tinge. 
Its appearance, then, is that of a branch of stalactite. 

The Chinese report marvels of the jin-seng, and no doubt it is, 
for Chinese organization, a tonic of very great effect for old and 
weak persons ; but its nature is too heating, the Chinese physicians 
admit, for the European temperament, already, in their opinion, too 
hot. The price is enormous, and doubtless its dearness contributes, 
with a people like the Chinese, to raise its celebrity so high. The 
rich and the Mandarins probably use it only because it is above 
the reach of other people, and out of pure ostentation. 

The jin-seng, grown in Corea, and there called Kao-li-seng, is 
of very inferior quality to that of Mantchouria. 

The second special treasure of Eastern Tartary is the fur of the 
sable, which, obtained by the hunters with immense labour and 
danger, is of such excessive price that only the princes and gi'eat 
dignitaries of the empire can purchase it. The grass called Quia, 
tlie third specialty of Mantchouria, is, on the contrary, of the com- 
monest occurrence ; its peculiar property is, that if put into your 
shoes, it communicates to the feet a soothing warmth, even in the 
depth of winter. 

As we have said above, the Mantchou Tartars have almost 
wholly abdicated their own manners, and adopted instead those of 
the Chinese ; yet, amid this transformation of their primitive cha- 
racters, they have still retained their old passion for hunting, for 
horse exercise, and for archery. At all periods of their history, 
they have attached an astonishing importance to these various 
exercises ; any one may convince himself of this by merely nmniug 
his eye over a Mantchou dictionary. Every thing, every incident, 
every attribute relating to these exercises, has its special expression, 
so as to need no circumlocution to convey it. There are different 
names, not only for the different colours of the horse, for example, 
for its age and qualities, but for all its movements; and it is just 
the same with reference to hunting and archery. 

The Mantchous are excellent archers, and among them the 
tribe Solon are particularly eminent in this respect. At all the 
militai-y stations, trials of skill with the bow take place on certain 
periodical occasions, in presence of the Mandarins and of the 
assembled people. Tlu-ee straw men, of the size of life, are placed 
in a straight Ihie, at from twenty to thirty paces distance from one 
another; the archer is on a line with them, about fifteen feet off 
fVom the first figure, his bow bent, and his finger on the string. 
The signal being given, he puts his horse to a gallop, and discharges 
his arrow at the first figure ; without checking his horse's speed, he 
takes a second arrow from his quiver, places it in the bow, and 


discharges it against the second figure, and so with the third; 
all this while the horse is dashing at fidl speed along the line of the 
figin-es, so that the rider has to keep himself firm in the stirrups 
while he manœuvi-es with the promptitude necessary to avoid the 
getting heyond his mark. From the first figure to the second, the 
arclier lias hare time for drawing his arrow, fixing, and discharging 
it, so that when he shoots, he has generally to turn somewhat on 
his saddle ; and as to the third shot, he has to discharge it alto- 
gether in the old Parthian fashion. Yet for a competitor to be 
deemed a good archer, it is essential that he should fire an an'ow into 
every one of the three figures. " To know how to shoot an aiTow," 
writes a Mantchou author, " is the first and most important know- 
ledge for a Tartar to acquire. Though success therein seems an 
easy matter, success is of rare occurrence. How many are there 
who practise day and night? How many are there who sleep with 
the how in their arms? and yet how few are there who have ren- 
dered themselves famous. How few are there whose names are 
proclaimed at the matches! Keep your frame straight and 
firm; avoid vicious postures; let your shoidders be immovable. 
Fire every aiTow into its mark, and you may be satisfied with 
your skill." 

The day after our arrival at the military town of Koukou-Khoton, 
we repaired on a visit to the mercantile district. Our hearts were 
painfully affected at finding ourselves in a Mantchou town, and 
hearing any language spoken there but the Mantchou. We could 
not reconcile to our minds the idea of a nation renegade of its 
nationality, of a conquering people, in nothing distinguishable from 
the conquered, except, perhaps, that they have a little less industry 
and a little more conceit. When the Thibetian Lama promised to 
the Tartar chief the conquest of China, and predicted to him that 
he should soon be seated on the throne at Peking, he would have 
told him more of truth, had he told him that his whole nation, its 
manners, its language, its country, was about to be engulphed for 
ever in the Chinese empire. Let any revolution remove the present 
dynasty, and the Mantchou will be compelled to complete fusion 
with the empire. Admission to their own country, occupied en- 
tirely by Chinese, will be forbidden to them. In reference to a 
map of Mantchouria, compiled by the Fathers Jesuits, upon the 
order of the Emperor Khang-Hi, Father Duhalde says that they 
abstained fi-om giving the Chinese names of places in the map ; 
and he assigns for this the following reason : " Of what use woidd 
it be to a traveller through Mantchouria to be told, for example, 
that the river Sakhalien-Oula is called by the Chinese Hé-Loung- 
Kiang, since it is not with Chinese he has there to do ; and the 



Tartars, whose aid he requires, have never heard the Chinese narae." 
This observation might be just enough in the time of Khang Hi, 
but now the precise converse would hold good; for in traversing 
Mantchouria it is always with Chinese you have to deal, and it is 
always of the Hé-Loung-Kiang that you hear, and never of the 



The Old Blue Town— Quarter of the Tanners — Knavery of the Chinese Traders — 
Hotel of the Three Perfections — Spoliation of the Tartars by the Chinese — 
Money Changer's Office — Tartar Coiner — Purchase of two Sheep-skin Robes 
— Camel Market — Customs of the Cameleers — Assassination of a Grand 
Lama of the Blue Town — Insurrection of the Lamaseries — Négociation 
between the Court of Peking and that of Lha-Ssa — Domestic Lamas — Wan- 
dering Lamas — Lamas in Community — Policy of the Mantchou Dynasty 
with reference to the Lamaseries — Interview with a Thibetian Lama — De- 
parture from the Blue Town. 

From the Mantchou town to the Old Blue Town is not more than 
half an hour's walk, along a broad road, constructed through the 
large market, which narrowed the town. With the exception 
of the Lamaseries, which rise above the other buildings, you see 
before you merely an immense mass of houses and shops huddled 
confusedly together, without any order or arrangement whatever. 
The ramparts of the old town still exist in all their integiity ; but 
the increase of the population has compelled the people by degrees 
to pass this hairier. Houses have risen outside the walls one after 
another until large suburbs have been formed, and now the extra- 
mural city is larger than the intra-mural. 

We entered the city by a broad street, which exhibited nothing 
remarkable except the large Lamasery, called, in common with the 


more celebrated establishment in the province of Chan-Si, the 
Lamasery of the Five Towers. It derives this appellation from a 
handsome square tower with five turrets, one, very lofty, in the 
centre and one at each angle. 

Just beyond this the broad street terminated, and there was no exit 
but a narrow lane running right and left. We turned down what 
seemed the least dirty of these, but soon found ourselves in a 
liquid slough of mud and filth, black, and of suffocating stench 
— we had got into the Street of the Tanners. We advanced slowly 
and shudderiugly, for beneath the mire lay hid, now a gi-eat stone, 
over which we stumbled, now a hole, into which we sank. To 
complete our misfortune, we all at once heard before us deafening 
cries and shouts, indicating that along the tortuosities of the lane 
in which we were horsemen and carts were about to meet us. To 
draw back, or to stand aside, were equally impossible, so that our 
only resource was to bawl on our own account, and, advancing, 
take our chance. At the next turning we met the cavalcade, and 
something extremely disagreeable seemed threatening us, when, 
upon sight of our camels, the horses of the other party took fright, 
and, turning right round, galloped off in utter confusion, leaving 
the way clear before us. Thus, thanks to our beasts of burden, 
we were enabled to continue our journey without giving the way to 
any one, and we at last arrived, without any serious accident, in a 
spacious street, adorned on each side with fine shops. 

We looked about for an inn, but fruitlessly ; we saw several 
inns, indeed, but these were not of the kind we sought. In the 
gi-eat towns of Northern China and Tartary each inn is devoted to 
a particular class of travellers, and will receive no other. "The 
Corndealers' Arms " inn, for example, will not admit a horse 
dealer, and so on. The inns which devote themselves to the enter- 
tainment of mere travellers are called the taverns of the Transitoiy 
Guests. We were pausing, anxiously looking about for one of 
these, when a young man, hastening from an adjacent shop, came 
up to us: "You seek an inn, gentlemen travellers," said he; 
" suifer me to guide you to one ; yet I scarcely know one in the 
Blue City worthy of you. Men are innumerable here, my Lords 
Lamas; a few good, but, alas! most bad. I speak it from my 
heart. In the Blue City you would with diiBculty find one man 
who is guided by his conscience ; yet conscience is a treasm-e ! You 
Tartars, you, indeed, know well what conscience is. Ah ! I know 
the Tai-tars well ! excellent people, right-hearted souls ! We 
CliJnese are altogether different — rascals, rogues. Not one China- 
man in ten thousand heeds conscience. Here, in this Blue City, 
evei-ybody, with the merest exceptions, makes it his business to 


cheat the worthy Tartars, and rob them of their goods. Oh ! it 's 
shameful !" 

And the excellent creature threw up his eyes as he denounced 
the knavery of his townsmen. We saw very clearly, however, 
that the direction taken by the eyes thus thrown up was the camel's 
back, whereon were two large cases, which our disinterested adviser 
no doubt took to contain precious merchandise. However, we let 
him lead us on and chatter as he pleased. When we had been 
wandering about under his escort for a full hour, and yet had 
readied no inn, we said to him : " We cannot think of troubling 
you fmther, since you yourself seem not to know where we may 
find that which we need." " Be perfectly easy, my lords," replied 
he; "I am guiding you to an excellent, a superexcellent hotel. 
Don't mention a word as to troubling me ; you pain me by the 
idea. What ! are we not all brothers ? Away with the distinction 
between Tartar and Chinese ! True, the language is not the same, 
nor the dress ; but men have but one heart, one conscience, one 
invariable rule of justice. Just wait one moment for me, my lords ; 
I will be with you again before you can look round," and so saying 
he dived into a shop on the left. He was soon back with us, making 
a thousand apologies for having detained us. " You must be veiy 
tired, my lords ; one cannot be otherwise when one is travelling. 
'Tis quite different from being with one's own family." Ashe spoke, 
we were accosted by another Chinese, a ludicrous contrast with 
our first friend, whose round shining smiling face was perfectly 
intense in its aspect of benevolence. The other fellow was meagi-e 
and lanky, with thin, pinched lips and little black eyes, half bm'ied 
in the head, that gave to the whole physiognomy a character of the 
most thorough knavery. " My Lords Lamas," said he, " I see you 
have just amved! Excellent! And you have journeyed safely. 
Well, well ! Your camels ai-e magnificent ; 'tis no wonder you 
travel fast and securely upon such animals. Well, you have 
arrived : that's a gi'eat happiness. Se-Eul," he continued, ad- 
dressing the Chinese who had first got hold of us, " you are 
guiding these noble Tartars to an hotel. 'Tis well ! Take care that 
the hotel is a good one, worthy of the distinguished strangers. 
What tliink you of the ' Tavern of Eternal Equity ? '" " The very 
hotel whither I was leading the Lords Lamas." "There is none 
better in the empire. By the way, the host is an acquaintance of 
mine. I cannot do better than accompany you and recommend 
these noble Tartars to his best cai-e. In fact, if I were not to go 
with you, I should have a weight upon my heart. When we are 
fortunate enough to meet brothers who need our aid, how can we 
do too much for them, for we are all brothers ! My lords, you see 


this young man and myself; well, we two are clerks in the same 
establishment, and we make it our pride to serve our brothers the 
Tartars ; for, alas ! in this dreadful city there is but too little 

Any one, hearing their professions of devoted zeal, would have 
imagined these two personages to have been the friends of our 
childhood ; but we were sufficiently acquainted with Chinese 
manners to perceive at once that we were the mark of a couple of 
swindlers. Accordingly, when we saw inscribed on a door, " Hotel 
of the Three Perfections ; transitory guests on horse and camel 
entertained, and their affairs transacted with infallible success," 
we at once directed our course up the gateway, despite the vehe- 
ment remonstrances of our worthy guides, and rode down a long 
avenue to the great square court of the hotel. The little blue cap 
worn by the attendants indicated that we were in a Turkish esta- 

This proceeding of ours was not at all what the two Chinese 
desired ; but they still followed us, and, without appearing dis- 
concerted, continued to act their parts. " Where are the people of 
the hotel," cried they, with an immense air; "let them prepare 
a large apartment, a fine, clean apartment ? Their Excellencies 
have arrived, and must be suitably accommodated." One of the 
principal waiters presented himself, holding by his teeth a key, in 
one hand a broom, and in the other a watering-pot. Our two pro- 
tectors immediately took possession of these articles. " Leave 
everything to us," said they; " it is we who claim the honour of 
personally waiting upon our illustrious friends ; you, attendants of 
the hotel, you only do things by halves, actuated as you are merely 
by mercenary considerations." And thereupon they set to work 
sprinkling, sweeping, and cleaning the room to which the waiter 
guided us. When this operation was concluded, we seated our- 
selves on the khang; the two Chinese "knew themselves better 
than to sit by the side of our Eminent Distinctions," and they 
accordingly squatted on the floor. As tea was being served, a 
young man, well attired and of exceedingly elegant address, came 
into the room, carrying by the four corners a silk handkerchief. 
" Gentlemen Lamas," said the elder of our previous companions, 
" this young man is the son of our principal, and doubtless has 
been sent by his father to inquire after your health, and whether 
you have so far journeyed in peace." The young man placed his 
handkerchief upon the table that stood before us. " Here are 
some cakes my father has sent to be eaten with your tea. When 
you have finished that meal, he entreats you will come and partake 
of an humble repast in our poor dwelling." " But why wear your 


hearts out thus for us mere strangers ? " " Oh ! " exclaimed all 
three in chorus, "the words you utter cover us with bhishes! 
What ! can we do anything in excess for brothers who have thus 
honoured us with their presence in our poor city !" " Poor 
Tartars!" said I in French to my colleague, "how thoroughly 
eaten up they must he when they fall into such hands as these!" 
These words, in an unkno^^^l tongue, excited considerable surprise 
in our worthy fi-iends. " In which of the illustrious kingdoms of 
Tartary dwell your Excellencies?" asked one of them. " We are 
not Tartars at all," was the reply. "Ah! we saw that at once; 
the Tartars have no such majesty of aspect as yours ; their mien 
has no grandeur about it ! May we ask what is the noble counti'j? 
whence you come?" "We are from the West; our native land 
is far hence." " Quite so," replied the eldest of the three knaves. 
" I knew it, and I said so to these young men, but they are ignorant ; 
they know nothing about physiognomy. Ah ! you are from the 
West. I know your country well ; I have been there more than 
once." " We are delighted to hear this : doubtless, then, you are 
acquainted with our language?" " Why, I cannot say I know it 
thoroughly ; but there are some few words I understand. I can't 
speak them, indeed ; but that does not matter. You western people 
are so clever, you know everything, the Chinese language, the Tar- 
tarian, the western — you can speak them all. I have always been 
closely mixed up with your countrymen, and have invariably been 
selected to manage their affairs for them whenever they come to 
the Blue Town. It is always I who make their purchases for 

We had by this time finished our tea; our three friends rose, 
and with a simultaneous bow, invited us to accompany them. " My 
lords, the repast is by this time prepared, and our chief awaits you." 
" Listen," said we, gi'avely, " while we utter words full of reason. 
You have taken the trouble to guide us to an inn, which shows you 
to be men of wann hearts ; you have here swept for us and prepared 
our room ; again, in proof of your excellent dispositions, yom* master 
has sent us pastry, which manifests in him a benevolence incapable 
of exhaustion towards the wayfaring stranger. You now invite us 
to go and dine with you : we cannot possibly trespass so grossly 
upon your kindness. No, dear fiiends, you must excuse us; if we 
desire to make some purchases in your establishment, you may rely 
upon us. For the present we will not detain you. We are going 
to dine at the Turkish Eating House." So saying, we rose and 
ushered our excellent friends to the door. 

The commercial intercourse between the Tartars and the 
Chinese is revoltingly iniquitous on the part of the latter. So 


soon as Mongols, simple, ingenuous men, if such there be at all in 
the world, anive in a trading town, they are snapped up by some 
Chinese, wlio carry them off, as it were, by main force, to their 
houses, give them tea for themselves and forage for their animals, and 
«ajole them in every conceivable way. The Mongols, themselves 
without guile and incapable of conceiving guile in others, take all 
they hear to be perfectly genuine, and congratulate themselves, 
conscious as they are of their inaptitude for business, upon their 
good fortune in thus meeting with brothers, Ahatoii, as they say, 
in whom they can place full confidence, and who will undertake to 
manage their whole business for them. A good dinner provided 
gratis in the back shop, completes the illusion. " If these people 
wanted to rob me," says the Tartar to himself, " they would not go 
to all this expense in giving me a dinner for nothing." When once 
the Chinese has got hold of the Tartar, he employs over him all the 
resources of the skilful and utterly unprincipled knavery of the 
Chinese character. He keeps him in his house, eating, drinking, 
and smoking, one day after another, until his suboixlinates have 
sold all the poor man's cattle, or whatever else he has to sell, and 
bought for him, in return, the commodities he requires, at prices 
double and triple the market value. But so plausible is the 
Chinese, and so simple is the Tartar, that the latter invariably de- 
parts with the most entire conviction of the immense philanthropy 
of the former, and with a promise to return, when he has other 
goods to sell, to the establishment where he has been treated so 

The next morning we went out to purchase some winter clothing, 
the want of which began to make itself sensibly felt. But first, in 
order to facilitate our dealings, we had to sell some ounces of 
silver. The money of the Chinese consists entirely of small round 
copper coins, of the size of our lialfpenny, with a square hole in 
the centre, through which the people string them, so that they may be 
more conveniently carried. These coins the Chinese call, tsien ; the 
Tartars, dehos ; and the Europeans, sapeks. Gold and silver are 
not coined at all ; they are melted into ingots of various sizes, and 
thus put into ch'culation. Gold-dust and gold leaf are also current 
in commerce, and they also possess bank notes. The ordinary value 
of the ounce of silver is 1,700 or 1,800 sapeks, according to the 
scarcity or abundance of silver in the country. 

The money changers have two iiTegular modes of making a profit 
by their traffic : if they state the fair price of silver to the customer, 
they cheat him in the weight; if their scales and their method of 
weighing are accurate, they diminish the price of the silver accord- 
ingly. But when they have to do with Tartars, they employ neither 


of these methods of fraud ; on the contrary, they weigh the silver 
scmpiilously, and sometimes allow a little overweight, and even 
they pay them above the market price; in fact, they appear to he 
quite losers by the transaction, and so they would be, if the weight 
and the price of the silver alone were considered; their advantage 
is derived, in these cases, from their manner of calculating the 
amount. When they come to reduce the silver into sapeks, they 
do indeed reduce it, making the most flagrant miscalculations, 
which the Tartars, who can count nothing beyond their beads, are 
quite incapable of detecting, and which they, accordingly, adopt 
implicitly, and even with satisfaction, always considering they have 
sold then bidUon well, since they know the full weight has been 
allowed, and that the full market price has been given. 

At the money changers in the Blue Town, to which we went to 
sell some silver, the Chinese dealers essayed, according to custom, 
to ajjply tills fi-aud to us, but they were disconcerted. The weight 
shown by their scales was perfectly correct, and the price they 
offered us was rather above the ordinary course of exchange, and 
the bargain between us was so far concluded. The chief clerk took 
the souan-pan, the calculation table used by the Chinese, and after 
calculating with an appearance of intense nicety, announced the 
result of his operation. " This is an exchange- office," said we ; "you 
are the buyers, we the sellers; you have made your calculation, we 
will make ours : give us a pencil and a piece of paper." — " Nothing 
can be more just; you have enunciated a fundamental law of com- 
merce," and so saying, they handed us a writing-case. We took 
the pencil, and a very sliort calculation exhibited a difference in 
our favour of a thousand sapeks. " Superintendent of the bank," 
said we, " yom* souanpan is in error by a thousand sapeks." — " Im- 
possible ! Do you think that all of a sudden I've forgotten my 
souan-pan ? Let me go over it again ; " and he proceeded with an 
air of great anxiety to appear correct, to set his calculating machine 
once more in operation, the other customers by om* side looking on 
with great amazement at all this. When he had done: "Yes," 
said he, "I knew I was right; see, brother; " and he passed the 
machine to a colleague behind the counter, who went over his cal- 
culation ; the result of their operations was exactly the same to a 
fraction. " You see," said the principal, " there is no eiTor. How 
is it that our calculation does not agree with that which you 
have written down there ?" — " It is unimportant to inqune 
why your calculation does not agi-ee with ours; this is certain, that 
your calculation is wrong and ours right. You see these little 
characters that we have traced on this paper; they are a very dif- 
feient thing from your souan-pan; it is impossible for them to be 


wrong. Were all the calculators in the world to work the whole of 
their lives upon this operation, they could arrive at no other result 
than this; that yoiu- statement is Ma'ong by a thousand sapeks." 

The money-changers were extremely embaiTassed, and began to 
tuni veiy red, when a bystander, who perceived that the affair was 
assuming an awkward aspect, presented himself as umpire. " I'll 
reckon it up for you," said he, and taking the souan-pan, his calcu- 
lation agreed with ours. The superintendent of the bank hereupon 
made us a profound bow: " Sh's Lamas," said he, "your mathe- 
matics are better than mine." " Oh, not at all," re2:)lied we, with a 
bow equally profound; "your souan-pan is excellent, but who 
ever heard of a calculator always exempt from error? People 
like you may very well be mistaken once and a way, whereas poor 
simple folks like us make blunders ten thousand times. Now, how- 
ever, we have fortunately concurred in our reckoning, thanks to the 
pains you have taken." These phrases were rigorously required 
under the circumstances, by Chinese politeness. Whenever any 
person in China is compromised by any awkward incident, those 
present always carefully refrain from any observation which may 
make him blush, or as the Chinese phrase it, take away his face. 

After our conciliatory address had restored self-possession to all 
present, everybody drew round the piece of paper on which we had 
cast up our sum in Arabic numerals. " That is a fine souan-pan," 
said one to another; " simple, sure, and speedy." — " Sirs Lamas," 
asked the principal, "what do these characters mean? Wha.t 
souan-pan is this? " " This souan-pan is infallible," returned we; 
" the characters are those which the Mandarins of Celestial Litera- 
ture use in calculating eclipses, and the course of the seasons."^ 
After a brief conversation on the merits of the Arabic numerals, 
the cashier handed us the full amount of sapeks, and we parted good 

The Chinese are sometimes victims to their own knavery, and 
we have known even Tartars catch them in a snare. One day a 
Mongol presented himself at the counter of a Chinese money- 
changer, with a youeri-pao carefully packed and sealed. A youen- 
pao is an ingot of silver weighing three pounds — in China there are 
sixteen ounces to the pound; the three pounds are never very 
rigorously exacted ; there being generally four or five ounces over, so 
that the usual weight of an ingot of silver is fifty-two ounces. The 
Tartar had no sooner unpacked his youen-pao than the Chinese 
clerk resolved to defraud him of an ounce or two, and weighing it, 
he pronounced it to be fifty ounces. " My youen pao weighs tifty- 

1 The Fathers Jesuits introduced the use of Arabic numerals into the Observatory 
at Peking. 


two ounces," exclaimed the Tartar. " I weighed it before I left 
home." " Oh, your Tartar scales are all very well for sheep ; but 
they don't do for weighing bullion." After much haggling, the bar- 
gain was concluded, the youen-pao was purchased as weigning fifty 
ounces, and the Tartar, having first required and obtained a cer- 
tificate of the stated weight and value of the ingot, returned to his 
tent with a good provision of sapeks and bank notes. 

In the evening the principal of the establishment received the 
usual report from each clerk of the business done in the course of 
the day. " I," said one of them with a triumphant air, " bought 
a youen-pao of silver, and made two ounces by it." He produced 
the ingot, which the chief received with a smile, soon changing 
into a frown. " What have you got here?" cried he. " This is not 
silver! " The ingot was handed round, and all the clerks saw that 
indeed it was base bullion. " I know the Tartar," said the clerk 
who had purchased it, " and will have him up before the Mandarin." 

The satellites of justice were forthwith dispatched after the 
roguish Tartar, whose offence, proved against him, was matter of 
capital punishment. It was obvious that the ingot was base bullion, 
and on the face of the affair there was clear proof that the Tartar 
had sold it. The Tartar, however, stoutly repudiated the imputa- 
tion. " The humblest of the humble," said he, " craves that he 
may be allowed to put forth a word in his defence." " Speak," 
said the Mandarm, " but beware how you say aught other than 
the exact truth." " It is true," proceeded the Tartar, " that I sold 
a youen-pao at this person s shop, but it was all pure silver. I am 
a Tartar, a poor, simple man, and these people, seeking to take 
advantage of me, have substituted a false for my genuine ingot. 
I cannot command many words, but I pray our father and mother, 
{i.e. the Mandarin), to have this false youen-pao weighed." The 
ingot was weighed, and was found to contain fifty-two ounces. 
The Tartar now drew from one of his boots a small parcel, contain- 
ing, wrapped in rags, a piece of paper, which he held up to the 
Mandarin. " Here is a certificate " cried he, " which I received at 
the shop, and which attests the value and weight of the youen-pao 
that I sold." The Mandarin looked over the paper with a roguish 
smUe, and then said: "According to the testimony of the clerk 
himself who wrote this certificate, this Mongol sold to him a youen- 
pao weighing fifty ounces ; this youen-pao of base bullion weighs 
fifty-two ounces; this, therefore, cannot be the Mongol's youen-pao; 
but now comes the question, whose is ic ? Who are really the persons 
that have false bullion in their possession? " Every body present, 
the Mandarin included, knew perfectly well how the case stood ; 
but the Chinese magistrate, tickled with the Tartar's ingenuity, gave 


him the benefit of the clerk's dull roguery, and dismissed the cliarge; 
but not so the accusers, who were well bastinadoed, and would have 
been put to death as coiners, had they not found means to appease 
justice by the present of some ingots of purer metal. It is only, how- 
ever, upon very rare and extraordinary occasions that the Mongols 
get the better of the Chinese. In the ordinaiy course of things, 
they are evei7where,*and always, and in eveiy way, the dupes of their 
neighbours who by dint of cunning and unprincipled machinations, 
reduce them to poverty. 

Upon receiving our sapeks, we proceeded to buy the winter 
clothing we needed. Upon a consideration of the meagreness of our 
exchequer, we came to the resolution that it would be better to pur- 
chase what we required at some secondhand shop. In China and 
Tartary no one has the smallest repugnance to wear other people's 
clothes; he who has not himself the attire wherein to pay a visit 
or make a holiday, goes without ceremony to a neighbour and 
borrows a hat, or a pair of ti'ousers, or boots, or shoes, or whatever 
else he wants, and nobody is at all surprised at these borrowings, 
which are quite a custom. The only hesitation any one has in 
lending his clothes to a neighbour, is, lest the borrower should sell 
them in payment of some debt, or, after using them, pawn them. 
People who buy clothes buy them indifferently, new or secondhand. 
The question of price is alone taken into consideration, for there is 
no more delicacy felt about putting on another man's hat or trousers, 
than there is about living in a house that some one else has occupied 
before you. 

This custom of wearing other people's things was by no means 
to our taste, and all the less so, that, ever since our arrival at the 
mission of Si- Wang, we had not been under the necessity of de- 
parting from our old habits in this respect. Now, however, the 
slenderness of our purse compelled us to waive our repugnance. 
"VVe went out, therefore, in search of a secondhand clothes shop, of 
which, in every town here, there are a greater or less number, for 
the most part in connection with pawnshops, called in these 
countries Tang-Pou. Those who borrow upon pledges, are seldom 
able to redeem the articles they have deposited, which they ac- 
cordingly leave to die, as the Tartars and Chinese express it ; or in 
other words, they allow the period of redemption to pass, and the 
articles pass altogether from them. The old clothes shops of the 
Blue Town were filled in this way with Tartar spoils, so that we 
had the opportunity of selecting exactly the sort of things we 
required, to suit the new costume we bad adopted. 

At the first shop we visited they showed us a quantity of 
wretched garments turned up with sheep-skin ; but though these 


rags were exceedingly old, and so covered with giease that it was 
impossible to guess at tlieir original colour, the price asked for 
them was exorbitant. After a piotracted haggling, we found it im- 
possible to come to terms, and we gave up this first attempt; and we 
gave it up, be it added, with a certain degree of satisfaction, for our self- 
respect was somew^iat wounded at finding ourselves reduced even to 
the proposition of wearing such filthy rags. We visited another shop, 
and another, a third, and a fourth, and still several more. We were 
shown magnificent garments, handsome garments, fair garments, 
endurable garments, but the consideration of expense w^as, in each 
instance, an impracticable stumbling-block. The journey we had 
imdertaken might endure for several years, and extreme economy, 
at all events in the outset, was indispensable. After going about 
the whole day, after making the acquaintance of all the rag-mer- 
chants in the Blue Town, after turning over and over all their 
old clothes, we w^ere fain to return to the secondhand dealer whom 
we had first visited, and to make the best bargain we could with 
him. We purchased from him, at last, two ancient robes of sheep- 
skin, covered with some material, the nature of which it was im- 
possible to identify, and the original colour of which we suspected 
to have been yellow. We proceeded to try them on, and it was 
at once evident that the tailor in making them had by no means 
had us in his eye. M. Gabet's robe was too short, j\l. Hue's too 
long ; but a friendly exchange was impracticable, the difference in 
height between the two missionaries being altogether too dispropor- 
tionate. We at first thought of cutting the excess fi-om the one, in 
order to make up the deficiency of the other; but then we should 
have had to call in the aid of a tailor, and this would have involved 
another drain upon our pmse ; the pecuniary consideration decided 
the question, and we detei-mined to wear the clothes as they were, 
M. Hue adopting the expedient of holding up, by means of a girdle, 
the sui-plus of his robe, and M . Gabet resigning liimself to the 
exposure to the public gaze of a portion of his legs ; the main 
inconvenience, after all, being the manifestation to all who 
saw us that we could not attire ourselves in exact proportion 
to our size. 

Provided with our sheep-skin coats, we next asked the dealer to 
show us his collection of secondhand winter hats. We examined 
several of these, and at last selected two caps of fox-skin, the elegant 
form of which reminded us of the schakos of our sappers. These pur- 
chases completed, each of us put under his arm his packet of old 
clothes, and we returned to the hotel of the " Three Perfections." 

We remained two days longer at Koukou-Khoton ; for, besides 
that we needed repose, Ave were glad of the opportunity of seeing 


this gi'eat town, and of becoming acquainted with the numerous and 
celebrated Lamaseries established there. 

The Blue Town enjoys considerable commercial importance, 
which it has acquired chiefly through its Lamaseries, the reputation 
of which attracts thither Mongols from the most distant parts of 
the empire. The Mongols bring hither large herds of oxen, camels, 
horses, sheep, and loads of furs, mushrooms, and salt, the only pro- 
duce of the deserts of Tartary. They receive, in return, brick-tea, 
linen, saddlery, odoriferous sticks to burn before theh* idols, oatmeal, 
millet, and kitchen utensils. 

The Blue Town is especially noted for its great trade in camels. 
The camel market is a lai'ge square in the centre of the town ; the 
animals are ranged here in long rows, their front feet raised upon 
a mud elevation constructed for that purpose, the object being 
to show off the size and height of the creatures. It is impossible 
to describe the uproar and confusion of this market, what with the 
incessant bawling of the buyers and sellers as they dispute, their 
noisy chattering after they have agreed, and the horrible shrieking 
of the camels at having their noses pulled, for the purpose of 
making them show their agility in kneeling and rising. In order 
to test the strength of the camel, and the burden it is capable of 
bearing, they make it kneel, and then pile one thing after another 
upon its back, causing it to rise under each addition, until it can 
rise no longer. They sometimes use the following expedient: 
While the camel is kneeling, a man gets upon its hind heels, and 
holds on by the long hair of its hump ; if the camel can rise then, 
it is considered an animal of superior power. 

The trade in camels is entirely conducted by proxy : the seller 
and the buyer never settle the matter between themselves. They 
select indifferent persons to sell theii' goods, who propose, discuss, 
and fix the price ; the one looking to the interests of the seller, the 
other to those of the purchaser. These " sale-speakers" exercise no 
other trade; they go from market to market to promote business, 
as they say. They have generally a gi-eat knowledge of cattle, 
have much fluency of tongue, and are, above all, endowed with a 
knavery beyond all shame. They dispute, by turns, furiously and 
argumentatively, as to the merits and defects of the animal ; but as 
soon as it comes to a question of price, the tongue is laid aside as a 
medium, and the conversation proceeds altogether in si^ns. They 
seize each other by the wrist, and beneath the long wide sleeve of 
their jackets, indicate with their fingers the progress of the bargain. 
After the affair is concluded they partake of the dinner, which is 
always given by the purchaser, and then receive a certain number 
of sapeks, according to the custom of different places. 




In the Blue Town there exist five great Lamaseries, each in- 
habited by more than 2,000 Lamas; besides these, they reckon 
fifteen less considerable establishments — branches, as it were, of 
the former. The number of regular Lamas resident in this city 
may fauiy be stated at 20,000. As to those who inhabit the 
different quarters of the town, engaged in commerce and horse- 
dealing, they are innumerable. The Lamasery of the Five Towers 
is the finest and the most famous: here it is that the Hobilgan 
lives — that is, a Grand Lama — who, after having been identified 
with the substance of Buddha, has already undergone several times 
the process of transmigi-ation. He sits here upon the altar once occu- 
pied by the Guison-Tamba, having ascended it after a tragical event, 
which very nearly brought about a revolution in the emph'e. 

The Emperor Khang-Hi, during the great military expedition 
which he made in the West against the Oelets, one day, in travers- 
ing the Blue Town, expressed a wish to pay a visit to the Guison- 
Tamba, at that time the Grand Lama of the Five Towers. The 
latter received the Emperor without rising from the throne, or 
manifesting any kind of respect. Just as Khang-Hi drew near to 
speak to him, a Kian-Kan, or high military Mandarin, indignant 
at this unceremonious treatment of his master, di'cw his sabre, fell 


upon the Guison-Tamba, and laid him dead on the steps of his 
throne. This terrible event roused the whole Lamasery, and indig- 
nation quickly communicated itself to all the Lamas of the Blue 

They ran to arms in every quarter, and the life of the Emperor, 
who had but a small retinue, was exposed to the greatest danger. 
In order to calm the irritation of the Lamas, he publicly reproached 
the Kian-Kan with his violence. " If the Guison-Tamba," an- 
swered the Kian-Kan, " was not a living Buddha, why did he not 
rise in the presence of the master of the universe? If he was a 
living Buddha, how was it he did not know I was going to kill 
him ?" Meanwhile the danger to the life of the Emperor became 
every moment more imminent ; he had no other means of escape 
than that of taking off his imperial robes, and attiring himself in 
the dress of a private soldier. Under favour of this disguise, and the 
general confusion, he was enabled to rejoin his army, which was 
near at hand. The gi-eater part of the men who had accompanied 
the Emperor into the Blue Town were massacred, and among the 
rest, the murderer of the Guison-Tamba. 

The Mongols sought to profit by this movement. Shortly after- 
wards it was announced that the Guison-Tamba had re-appeared, and 
that he had transmigrated to the country of the Khalkhas, who had 
taken him under their protection, and had sworn to avenge his 
murder. The Lamas of the Great Kouren set actively to the work 
of organization. They stripped off their red and yellow robes, 
clothed themselves in black, in memory of the disastrous event 
of the Blue Town, and allowed the hair and beard to grow, in 
sign of grief. Everything seemed to presage a gi-and rising of the 
Tartar tribes. The great energy and rare diplomatic talents of the 
Emperor Khang-Hi alone sufficed to arrest its progress. He im- 
mediately opened négociations with the Talé- Lama, Sovereign of 
Thibet, who was induced to use all his influence with the Lamas 
for the re-establishment of order, whilst Khang-Hi was intimidating 
the Khalkha kings by means of his troops. Gradually peace 
was restored; the Lamas resumed their red and yellow robes; but, 
as a memorial of their coalition iïi favour of the Guison-Tamba, 
they retained a narrow border of black on the collar of their robes. 
Khalkha Lamas alone bear this badge of distinction. 

Ever since that period, a Hobilgan has taken the place in the 
Blue Town of the Guison-Tamba, who himself is resident at the 
great Kouren, in the district of the Khalkhas. Meanwhile, the 
Emperor Khang-Hi, whose penetrating genius was always occupied 
with the future, was not entirely satisfied with these arrangements. 
He did not believe in all these doctrines of transmigration, and 


clearly saw that the Khalkhas, in pretending that the Gidson- 
Tamha had reappeared among them, had no other end than that of 
keeping at their disposal a power capable of contending, upon oc- 
casion, with that of the Chinese Emperor. To abolish the office of 
Guison-Tamba would have been a desperate affair ; the only course 
was, whilst tolerating him, to neutralise his influence. It was 
decreed, with the concurrence of the Court of Lha-Ssa, that the 
Guison-Tamba should be recognised legitimate sovereign of the 
great Kouren; but that after his successive deaths, he should 
always be bound to make his transmigi'ation to Thibet. Khang-Hi 
had good reason to believe that a Thibetian by origin, would 
espouse with reluctance the resentments of the Khalkhas against 
the Court of Peking. 

The Guison-Tamba, full of submission and respect for the orders 
of Khang-Hi and of the Talé-Lama, has never failed since that to 
go and accomplish his metempsychosis in Thibet. Still, as they 
fetch him whilst he is yet an infant, he must necessarily be in 
fluenced by those about him ; and it is said, that as he grows up, 
he imbibes sentiments little favoiu-able to the reigning dynasty. 
In 1839, when the Guison-Tamba made that journey to Peking, of 
wliich we have spoken, the alarm manifested by the Court arose 
from the recollection of these events The Lamas who flock from 
aU the districts of Tartary to the Lamaseries of the Blue Town, 
rarely remain there permanently. After taking their degi-ees, as it 
were, in these quasi universities, they return, one class of them, to 
their own countries, where they either settle in the small Lama- 
series, wherein they can be more independent, or live at home 
with their families ; retaining of theh' order little more than its red 
and yellow habit. 

Another class consists of those Lamas who live neither in Lama- 
series nor at home with their families, but spend their time vaga 
bondizing about like bu'ds of passage, travelling all over their own 
and the adjacent countries, and subsisting upon the rude hospitality 
which, in Lamasery and in tent they are sure to receive, throughout 
their wandering way. Lamasery or tent, they enter without cere- 
mony, seat themselves, and while the tea is preparing for their 
refreshment, give their hosts an account of the places they have 
visited in their rambles. If they think fit to sleep where they are, 
they stretch themselves on the floor and repose until the morning. 
After breakfast, they stand at the entrance of the tent, and watch 
the clouds for a while, and see whence the wind blows ; then they 
take their way, no matter whither, by tliis path or that, east or 
west, north or south, as their fancy or a smoother turf suggests, and 
lounge tranquilly on, sure at least, if no other shelter presents 



itself Ly-and-by, of the shelter of the cover, as they express it, 
of that great tent, the world; aud sure, moreover, having no desti- 
nation before them, never to lose their way. 

The wandering Lamas visit all the countries readily accessible to 
them: — China, Mantchouria, the Khalkhas, the various kingdoms 
of Southern Mongolia, the Ourianghai, the Koukou-Noor, the 
northern and southern slopes of the Celestial Mountains, Thibet, 
India, and sometimes even Turkestan. There is no stream which 
they have not crossed, no mountains they have not climbed, no 
Grand Lama before whom they have not j)rostrated themselves, no 
people with whom they have not associated, and whose customs 
and language are imknown to them. Travelling without any end 
in view, the places they reach are always those they sought. The 
stoiy of the Wandering Jew, who is for ever a wanderer, is 
exactly realised in these Lamas. They seem influenced by some 
secret power, which makes them wander unceasingly from place to 
place. God seems to have infused into the blood which flows in 
their veins, something of that motive power which propels them 
on their way, without allowing them to stop. 

The Lamas living in community are those who compose the 


third class. A Lamaseiy is a collection of small bouses built around 
one or more Buddhic temples. These dwellings are more or less 
large and beautiful, according to the means of the proprietor. The 
Lamas who live thus in community, are generally more regular 
than the others ; they pay more attention to prayer and study. 
They are allowed to keep a few animals ; some cows to ajBFord them 
milk and butter, the principal materials of their daily food ; horses ; 
and some sheep to be killed on festivals. 

Generally speaking, the Lamaseries have endowments, either 
royal or imperial. At certain periods of the year, the revenues are 
distributed to the Lamas according to the station which they have 
obtained in the hierarchy. Those who have the reputation of 
being learned physicians, or able fortune-tellers, have often the 
opportunity of acquiring possession of the property of strangers; 
yet they seldom seem to become rich. A childish and heedless 
race, they cannot make a moderate use of the riches they acquire ; 
their money goes as quickly as it comes. The same Lama whom 
you saw yesterday in dirty, torn rags, to-day rivals in the magnifi- 
cence of his attire the gi-andeur of the highest dignitaries of the 
Lamasery. So soon as animals or money are placed within his 
disposition, he starts off to the next trading town, sells what he has 
to sell, and clothes himself in the richest attire he can purchase. 
For a month or two he plays the elegant idler, and then, his money 
all gone, he rejDairs once more to the Chinese town, this time to 
pawn his fine clothes for what he can get, and with the certainty 
that once in the Tang-Pou, he will never, except by some chance, 
redeem them. All the pawnbrokers' shops in the Tartar Chinese 
towns are full of these Lama relics. The Lamas are very numerous 
in Tartaiy; we think we may affirm, without exaggeration, that 
they compose at least a third of the population. In almost all 
families, with the exception of the eldest son, who remains a lay- 
man, the male children become Lamas. 

The Tartars embrace this profession compulsorily, not of 
their own free will ; they are Lamas or laymen from their birth, 
according to the will of the parents. But as they gi'ow up, they 
grow accustomed to this life; and, in the end, religious exaltation 
attaches them strongly to it. 

It is said that the policy of the Mantchou dynasty is to increase 
the number of Lamas in Tartary; the Chinese Mandarins so as- 
sured us, and the thing seems probable enough. It is certain that 
the government of Peking, whilst it leaves to poverty and want the 
Chinese Bonzes, honours and favours Lamanism in a special 
degree. The secret intention of the government, in augmenting 
the number of the Lamas, who are bound to celibacy, is to arrest, 


by this means, the progress of the population in Tartary. The 
recollection of the former power of the Mongols ever fills its mind ; 
it knows that they were formerly masters of the empire, — and in the 
fear of a new invasion, it seeks to enfeeble them by all the means 
in its power. Yet, although Mongolia is scantily peopled, in com- 
parison with its immense extent, it could, at a day's notice, send 
forth a formidable army. A high Lama, the Guison-Tamba, for 
instance, would have but to raise his finger, and all the Mongols, 
from the frontiers of Siberia to the extremities of Thibet, rising as 
one man, would precipitate themselves like a torrent wherever their 
sainted leader might direct them. The profound peace which they 
have enjoyed for more than two centuries, might seem to have 
necessarily enervated their warlike character; nevertheless, you 
may still observe that they have not altogether lost their taste for 
warlike adventures. The great campaigns of Tsing-Kis-Khan, 
who led them to the conquest of the world, have not escaped their 
memory during the long period of leisure of their nomadic life ; 
they love to talk of them, and to feed their imagination with vague 
projects of invasion. 

During our short stay at the Blue Town we had constant con- 
versations with the Lamas of the most celebrated Lamaseries, 
endeavouring to obtain fresh information on the state of Buddhism 
in Tartary and Thibet. All they told us only served to confirm us 
more and more in what we had before learnt on this subject. In 
the Blue Town, as at Tolon-Noor, everyone told us that the doctrine 
would appear more sublime and more luminous as we advanced 
towards the West. From what the Lamas said, who had visited 
Thibet, Lha-Ssa was, as it were, a great focus of liglit, the rays of 
which grew more and more feeble in proj)ortion as they became 
removed from their centre. 

One day we had an opportunity of talking with a Thibetian 
Lama for some time, and the things he told us about religion as- 
tounded us greatly A brief explanation of the Christian doctrine, 
which we gave to him, seemed scarcely to surprise him ; he even 
maintained that our views differed little from those of the Grand 
Lamas of Thibet. " You must not confound," said he, " religious 
truths with the superstitions of the vulgar. The Tartars, poor, 
simple people, prostrate themselves before whatever they see; every- 
thing with them is Borhan. Lamas, prayer books, temples. Lama- 
series, stones, heaps of bones, — 'tis all the same to them ; down they 
go on their knees, crying, Borhan ! Borlian ! " " But the Lamas 
themselves admit innumerable Borhans?" "Let me explain," 
said our friend, smilingly ; " there is but one sole Sovereign of the 
universe, the Creator of all things, alike without beginning and 


without end. In Dchagar (India) he hears the name of Buddha, 
in Thihet, that of Samtche Mitcheba (all Powerful Eternal) ; the 
Dcha-Mi (Chinese) call him Fo, and the Sok-Po-Mi (Tartars), 
Borhan." " You say that Buddha is sole ; in that ease, who are 
the Talé-Lama of Lha-Ssa, the Bandchan of Djachi-Loumho, the 
Tsong-Kaha of the Sifan, the Kaldan of Tolon-Noor, the Guison- 
Tamba of the Great Kouren, the Hobilgan of Blue Town, the 
Hotoktou of Peking, the Chaberon of the Tartar and Thibetian 
Lamaseries generally?" "They are all equally Buddha." "Is 
Buddha visible?" "No, he is without a body; he is a spiritual 
substance." " So, Buddha is sole, and yet there exist innumerable 
Buddhas; the Talé-Lama, and so on. Buddha is incorporeal; he 
cannot be seen, and yet the Talé Lama, the Guison-Tamba, and 
the rest are visible, and have bodies like our own. How do you 
explain all this?" "The doctrine, I tell you, is true," said the 
Lama, raising his arm, and assuming a remarkable accent of 
authority; " it is the doctrine of the West, but it is of unfathomable 
profundity. It cannot be sounded to the bottom. *' 

These words of the Thibetian Lama astonished us strangely ; 
the Unity of God, the mystery of the Incarnation, the dogma of the 
Ileal Presence seemed to us enveloped in his creed ; yet with ideas 
so sound in appearance, he admitted the metempsychosis, and a 
sort of pantheism of which he could give no account. 

These new indications respecting the religion of Buddha gave 
us hopes that we should really find among the Lamas of Thibet a 
symbolism more refined and superior to the common belief, and 
confirmed us in the resolution we had adopted, of keeping on our 
course westward. 

Previous to quitting the inn we called in the landlord, to settle 
our bill. We had calculated that tbe entertainment, during fom- 
days, of three men and our animals, would cost us at least tjvo 
ounces of silver; we were therefore agreeably surprised to hear the 
landlord say, " Sirs Lamas, there is no occasion for going into any 
accounts ; put 300 sapeks into the till, and that will do very well. 
My house," he added, " is recently established, and I want to gjve 
it a good character. You are come from a distant land, and I 
would enable you to say to your countrymen that my establishment 
is worthy of their confidence." We replied that we would eveiy- 
where mention his disinterestedness; and that our countrymen, 
whenever they had occasion to visit the Blue Town, would certainly 
not fail to put-up at the " Hotel of the Three Perfections." 



A Tartar-eater— Loss of Arsalan— Great Caravan of Camels— Night Arrival at 
Tchagan-Kouren — We are refused Admission into the Inns — We take np our 
abode with a Shepherd — Overflow of the Yellow River — Aspect of Tchagan- 
Kouren — Departure across the Marshes — Hiring a Bark — Arrival on the 
Banks of the Yellow River — Encampment under the Portico of a Pagoda — 
Embarkation of the Ci^mels — Passage of the Yellow River — Laborious Journey 
across the Inundated Country — Encampment on the Banks of the River. 

We quitted the Blue Town on the fourth day of the ninth moon. 
We had ah-eady been travelling more than a month. It was with 
the utmost difficulty that our little caravan could get out of the 
town. The streets were encumbered with men, cars, animals, 
stalls in which the traders displayed their goods ; we could only 
advance step by step, and at times we were obliged to come to a 
halt, and wait for some minutes until the way became a little 
cleared. It was near noon before we reached the last houses of the 
town, outside the western gate. There, upon a level road, our 
camels were at length able to proceed at their ease in all the 
fulness of their long step. A chain of rugged rocks rising on our 
rioht sheltered us so completely from the north wind, that we did 
not at all feel the rigour of the weather. The country through 
which we were now travelling was still a portion of Western 
Toumet. We observed in all directions the same indications of 


prosperity and comfort which had so much gratified ns east of the 
town. Eveiywhere around substantial villages presented proofs of 
successful agi'iculture and trade. Although we could not set up our 
tent in the cultivated fields by which we were now surrounded, yet, 
so far as circumstances permitted, we adhered to our Tartar habits. 
Instead of entering an inn to take our morning meal, we seated 
ourselves under a rock or tree, and there breakfasted upon some 
rolls fried in oil, of which we had bought a supply at the Blue 
Town. The passers-by laughed at this rustic proceeding, but they 
were not surprised at it. Tartars, unused to the manners of civi- 
lised nations, are entitled to take their repast by the roadside even 
in places where inns abound. 

During the day this mode of travelling was pleasant and con- 
venient enough ; but, as it would not have been prudent to remain 
out all night, at sunset we sought an inn : the preservation of our 
animals of itself sufficed to render this proceeding necessary. 
There was nothing for them to eat on the way side, and had we 
not resorted in the evening to places where we could purchase 
forage for them, they would, of course, have speedily died. 

On the second evening after our departure from Blue Town, 
we encountered at an inn a very singular personage. We had just 
tied our animals to a manger under a shed in the great court, w^hen 
a traveller made his appearance, leading by a halter a lean, raw- 
boned horse. The traveller was short, but then his rotundity was 
prodigious. He wore on his head a great straw hat, the flapping 
brim of which rested on his shoulders ; a long sabre suspended 
from his girdle presented an amusing contrast with the peaceful 
joyousness of his physiognomy. " Superintendent of the soup- 
kettle," cried he, as he entered, "is there room for me in your 
tavern?" "I have but one travellers' room," answered the inn- 
keeper, "and three Mongols who have just come occupy it; you 
can ask them if they will make room for you." The traveller 
waddled towards us. " Peace and happiness unto you. Sirs Lamas ; 
do you need the whole of your room, or can you accommodate me ?" 
•' Why not? We are all travellers, and should serve one another." 
" Words of excellence ! You are Tartars ; I am Chinese, yet, com- 
prehending the claims of hospitality, you act upon the truth, that 
all men are brothers." Hereupon, fastening his horse to a manger, 
he joined us, and, having deposited his travelling-bag upon the 
kang, stretched himself at full length, with the air of a man 
greatly fatigued. " Whither are you bound ? " asked we ; *' are you 
going to buy up salt or catsup for some Chinese company?" 
"No ; I represent a great commercial house at Peking, and I am 
collecting some debts from the Tartars. Where ai-e you going ? " 


" We shall to-day pass the Yellow Eiver to Tchagan Koiiren, and 
then journey westward through the country of the Ortous." 
"You are not Mongols, apparently?" "No; we are from the 
West." "Well, it seems we are both of one trade; you, like 
myself, are Tartar-eaters." " Tartar-eaters ! What do you mean?" 
" Why, we eat the Tartars. You eat them by prayers ; I by com- 
merce. And why not? The Mongols ai-e poor simpletons, and we 
may as well get their money as anybody else." " You are mistaken. 
Since we entered Tartary we have spent a great deal, but we have 
never taken a single sapek from the Tartars." " Oh, nonsense !" 
" What ! do you suppose our camels and our baggage came to us 
from the Mongols?" "Why, I thought you came here to recite 
your prayers." We entered into some explanation of the difference 
between om* principles and those of the Lamas, for whom the 
traveller had mistaken us, and he was altogether amazed at our dis- 
interestedness. " Things are quite the other way here," said he. 
" You won't get a Lama to say prayers for notliing; and certainly, 
as for me, I should never set foot in Tartary but for the sake of 
money." " But how is it you manage to make such good meals 
of the Tartars?" "Oh, we devour them; we j)ick them clean. 
You've observed the silly race, no doubt; whatever they see when 
they come into our towns they want, and when we know who they 
are, and where we can find them, we let them have goods upon 
credit, of course at a considerable advance upon the price, and 
upon interest at thirty or forty per cent., which is quite right and 
necessary. In China the Emperor's laws do not allow this ; it is 
only done with the Tartars. Well, they don't pay the money, and the 
interest goes on until there is a good sum owing worth the coming 
for. When we come for it, they've no money, so we merely take 
all the cattle and sheep and horses we can get hold of for the 
interest, and leave the capital debt and future interest to be paid 
next time, and so it goes on from one generation to another. Oh ! 
a Tartar debt is a complete gold mineJ' 

Day had not broken when the Yao-Tchang-Ti (exactor of debts) 
was on foot. " Sirs Lamas," said he, " I am going to saddle my 
horse, and proceed on my way, — I propose to travel to-day with 
you." " 'Tis a singular mode of travelling with people, to start 
before they're up," said we. " Oh, your camels go faster than my 
horse ; you'll soon overtake me, and we shall enter Teh agan-Kouren 
(White Enclosure) together." He rode ofi', and at daybreak 
we followed him. This was a black day with us, for in it we had 
to mourn a loss. After travelling several hours, we perceived that 
Arsalan was not with the caravan. We halted, and Samdad- 
chiemba, mounted on his little mule, turned back in search of the 

TtllBET, AND CHINA. 131 

dog. He went through several villages which we had passed in 
the course of the morning, but his search was fruitless ; he returned 
without having either seen or heard of Arsalan. " The dog was 
Chinese," said Samdadehiemba ; "he was not used to a nomadic 
life, and getting tired of wandering about over the desert, he has 
taken service in the cultivated district. What is to be done? Shall 
we wait for him ? " " No, it is late, and we are fai' from White 
Enclosure." "Well, if there is no dog, there is no dog; and we 
must do without him." This sentimental effusion of Samdad- 
chiemba gravely delivered, we proceeded on our way. 

At first, the loss of Arsalan grieved us somewhat. We were ac- 
customed to see him running to and fro in the prairie, rolling in 
the long grass, chasing the grey squirrels, and scaring the eagles 
fi'om their seat on the plain. His incessant evolutions served to 
break the monotony of the country througb which we were passing, 
and to abridge, in some degi-ee, the tedious length of the way. 
His office of porter gave him especial title to our regret. Yet, after 
the first impulses of sorrow, reflection told us that the loss was not 
altogether so serious as it had at first appeared. Each day's ex- 
perience of the nomadic life had served more and more to dispel 
our original apprehension of robbers. Moreover, Arsalan, under 
any circumstances, would have been a very ineffective guard ; for 
his incessant galloping about during the day sent him at night into 
a sleep which nothing could disturb. This was so much the case, 
that every mornrng, make what noise we might in taking down 
our tent, loading the camels, and so on, there would Arsalan re- 
main, stretched on the grass, sleeping a leaden sleep; and when 
tbe caravan was about to start, we had always to arouse him with 
a sound kick or two. Upon one occasion, a strange dog made his 
way into our tent, without the smallest opposition on the part of 
Arsalan, and had full time to devour our mess of oatmeal and a 
candle, the wick of which he left contumeliously on the outside of 
the tent. A consideration of economy completed our restoration to 
tranquillity of mind: each day we had had to provide Arsalan 
with a ration of meal, at least quite equal in quantity to tliat which 
each of us consumed; and we were not rich enough to have con- 
stantly sealed at our table a guest with such excellent appetite, 
and whose services were wholly inadequate to compensate for the 
expense he occasioned. 

We had been informed that we should reach W^hite Enclosure 
the same day, but the sun had set, and as yet we saw no signs of the 
town before us. By-and-by, what seemed clouds of dust made then* 
appearance in the distance, approaching us. By degrees they de- 
veloped themselves in the form of camels, laden with western mer- 



( . I h'u ipp^lttiÇa 

..«S - ^_7rl'-->':=^.n»— 


caravan consists of at least ten thousand camels." " If that be the 
case," said we, " there is no time to be lost : a good journey to 
you, and peace," and on we went. 

The cameleers had stamped upon their features, almost blackened 
with the sun, a character of uncouth misanthropy. Enveloped from 
head to foot in goat-skins, they were placed between the humps of 
their camels, just like bales of merchandise ; they scarcely con- 
descended to turn even their heads round to look at us. Five 
months journeying across the desert seemed almost to have bruti- 
fied them. AU the camels of this immense caravan wore suspended 
from theu' necks Thibetian bells, the silvery sound of which pro- 
duced a musical harmony which contrasted very agreeably with 
the sullen taciturn aspect of the drivers. In our progress, however, 
we contrived to make them break silence from time to time; the 
roguish Dchiahour attracted their attention to us in a very marked 
manner. Some of the camels, more timid than others, took Mght 
at the little mule, which they doubtless imagined to be a wild 
beast. In their endeavour to escape in an opposite direction they 
drew after them the camels next following them in the procession, 
so that, by this operation, the caravan assumed the form of an 
immense bow. This abrupt evolution aroused the cameleers from 
their sullen torpidity ; they grumbled bitterly, and directed fierce 
glances against us, as they exerted themselves to restore the 
procession to its proper line. Samdadchiemba, on the contrary, 
shouted with laughter ; it was in vain that we told him to ride 
somewhat apart in order not to alarm the camels; he turned a deaf 
ear to all we said. The discomûtm*e of the procession was quite a 
dehghttul entertainment for him, and he made his Httle mule 
caracole about in the hope of an encore. 

The first cameleer had not deceived us. We journeyed on be- 
tween the apparently interminable file of the caravan, and a chain of 
rugged rocks, until night had absolutely set in, and even then we 
did not see the town. The last camel had passed on, and we seemed 
alone in the desert, when a man came riding by on a donkey. 
"Elder brother," said we, "is White Enclosure still distant?" 
"No, brothers," he lejilied, " it is just before you, there, where you 
see the lights. You have not more than five lis to go." Five 
lis! It was a long way in the night, and upon a strange road, 
but we were fain to resign ourselves. The night grew darker and 
darker. There was no moon, no stars even, to guide us on our way. 
We seemed advanciug amid chaos and abysses. We resolved to 
alight, in the hope of seeing our way somewhat more clearly : the 
result was precisely the reverse ; we would advance a few steps 
gropingly and slowly ; then, all of a sudden, we threw back our 


heads ill fear of dashing them against rocks or walls that seemed 
to rise from an abyss. We speedily got covered with perspiration, 
and were only happy to mount our camels once more, and rely 
on their clearer sight and surer feet. Fortunately the baggage 
was well secured : what misery would it have been had that fallen 
off amid all this darkness, as it had frequently done before ! We 
arrived at last in TchaganKouren, but the difficulty now was to 
find an inn. Every house was shut up, and there was not a living 
creature in the streets, except a number of great dogs that ran 
barking after us. 

At length, after wandering haphazard through several stieets, 
we heard the strokes of a hammer upon an anvil. We proceeded 
towards the sound, and before long, a great light, a thick smoke, 
and sparks glittering in the air, announced that we had come upon 
a blacksmith's shop. We presented ourselves at the door, and 
humbly entreated our brothers, the smiths, to tell us where we should 
find an inn. After a few jests upon Tartars and camels, the com- 
pany assented to our request, and a boy, lighting a torch, came 
out to act as our guide to an inn. 

After knocking and calling for a long time at the door of the 
first inn we came to, the landlord opened it, and was inquiring who 
we were, when, unluckily for us, one of our camels, worried by a 
dog, took it into its head to send forth a succession of those horrible 
cries for which the animal is remarkable. The innkeeper at once 
shut his door in our faces. At all the inns where we successively 
applied, we were received in much the same manner. No sooner 
were the camels noticed than the answer was, No room; in point 
of fact, no innkeeper, if he can avoid it, will receive camels into his 
stables at all : their size occupies great space, and their appearance 
almost invariably creates alarm among the other animals; so that 
Chinese travellers generally make it a condition with the landlord 
before they enter an inn, that no Tartar caravan shall be admitted. 
Our guide finding all our efforts futile, got tired of accompanying 
us, wished us good night, and returned to his forge. 

We were exhausted with weariness, hunger, and thirst, yet 
there seemed no remedy for the evil, when all at once we heard the 
bleating of sheep. Following the sound, we came to a mud enclosure, 
the door of which was at once opened upon our knocking. " Bro- 
ther," said we, " is this an inn? " " No, it is a sheep-house. Who 
are you ? " " We are travellers, who have arrived here, weaiy and 
hungry ; but no one will receive us." As we were speaking, an 
old man came to the door, holding in his hand a lighted torch. 
As soon as he saw our camels and our costume. " Mendou ! Men- 
dou ! " he exclaimed, " Sirs Lamas, enter ; there is room for your 


camels in the court, and my house is large enougli for you ; you 
shall stay and rest here for several days." We entered joyfulW, 
fastened our camels to the manger, and seated ourselves round the 
hearth, where already tea was prepared for us. " Brother," said 
we to the old man, "we need not ask whether it is to Mongols that 
we owe this hospitality. " " Yes, Sirs Lamas," said he, " we are all 
Mongols here. We have for some time past quitted the tent, to 
reside here; so that we may better cany on our trade in sheep. 
Alas ! we are insensibly becoming Chinese ! " " Your manner of 
life," returned we, "may have changed, but it is certain that your 
hearts have remained Tartar. Nowhere else in all Tchagan-Kouien, 
has the door of kindness been opened to us." 

Observing our fatigue, the head of the family unrolled some 
skins in a corner of the room, and we gladly laid ourselves down to 
repose. We should have slept on till the morning, but Samdad- 
chiemba aroused us to partake of the supper which our hosts had 
hospitably jjrepared — two large cups of tea, cakes baked in the ashes, 
and some chops of boiled mutton, arranged on a stool by way of a 
table. The meal seemed after our long fasting, perfectly magnificent ; 
we partook of it heartily, and then having exchanged pinches of 
snufF with the family, resumed our slumber. 

Next morning we communicated the plan of our journey to 
our Mongol hosts. No sooner had we mentioned that we in- 
tended to pass the Yellow River, and thence ti'averse the country 
of the Ortous, than the ^yhole family bui'st out with exclama- 
tions. " It is quite impossible," said the old man, " to cross 
the Yellow Eiver. Eight days ago the river overflowed its 
banks, and the plains on both sides are completely inundated." 
This intelligence filled us with the utmost consternation. We 
had been quite prepared to pass the Yellow Eiver under cir- 
cumstances of danger arising from the wretchedness of the 
feiTy boats and the difficulty of managing our camels in them, 
and we knew, of coui'se, that the Hoang-Ho was subject to 
periodical overflows; but these occur orcUnaidly in the rainy 
season, towards the sixth or seventh month, whereas we were now 
in the diy season, and, moreover, in a peculiarly diy season. 

We proceeded forthwith towards the river to investigate the 
matter for ourselves, and found that the Tartar had only told us 
the exact ti'uth. The Yellow River had become, as it were, a vast 
sea, the limits of wliich were scarcely visible. Here and there you 
could see the higher grounds rising above the water, like islands, 
wliile the houses and villages looked as though they were floating 
upon the waves. W^e consulted several persons as to the course 
we should adopt. Some said that further progi'ess was imprac- 


ticable, for that, even where the inundation had subsided, it had, 
left the earth so soft and slippery that the camels could not walk 
upon it, while elsewhere we should have to dread at every step 
some deep pool, in which we should inevitably be drowned. Other 
opinions were more favoui'able, suggesting that the boats which 
were stationed at intervals for the purpose would easily and cheaply 
convey us and our baggage in three days to the river, while the 
camels could follow us through the water, and that once at the 
river side, the great ferry-boat would carry us all over the bed of 
the stream without any difficulty. 

What were we to do? To turn back was out of the question. 
We had vowed that, God aiding, we would go to Lba-Ssa whatever 
obstacles impeded. To turn the river by coasting it northwards 
would materially augment the length of our journey, and, moreover, 
compel us to traverse the great desert of Gobi. To remain at Tcha- 
gan-Kouren, and patiently await for a month the complete retire- 
ment of the waters and the restoration of solidity in the roads, was, 
in one point of view, the most prudent course, but there was a gi-ave 
inconvenience about it. We and our five animals could not live 
for a month in an inn without occasioning a most alarming atrophy 
in our already meagi-e purse. The only course remaining was to 
place oiu*selves exclusively under the protection of Providence, and 
to go on, regardless of mud or marsh. Tliis resolution was 
adopted, and we returned home to make the necessary prepa 

Tchagan-Kouren is a large, fine town of recent construction. 
It is not marked on the map of China compiled by M. Andriveau- 
Goujon, doubtless because it did not exist at the time when the 
Fathers Jesuits residing at Peking were directed by the Emperor 
Khang-Hi to draw maps of the empire. Nowhere in China, 
Mantchouria, or in Thibet, have we seen a town like White 
Enclosure. The streets are wide, clean, and clear ; the houses 
regular in their arrangement, and of very fair architecture. There 
are several squares, decorated with trees, a feature which struck 
us all the more that we had not observed it anywhere else in this 
part of the world. There are plenty of shops, commodiously 
arranged, and well supplied with Chinese, and even with European 
goods. The trade of Tchagan-Kouren, however, is greatly checked 
by the proximity of the Blue Town, to which, as a place of com 
merce, the Mongols have been much longer accustomed. 

Our worthy Tartar host, in his hospitality, sought to divert us 
from our project, but unsuccessfully ; and he even got rallied by 
Samdadchiemba for his kindness. "It's quite clear," said our 
guide, " that you've become a mere Kitat (Chinese), and think that 


a man must not set out upon a journey unless the earth is perfectly 
dry and the sky perfectly cloudless. I have no doubt you go out 
to lead your sheep with an umbrella in one hand and a fan in the 
other." It was ultimately arranged that we should take oin- de- 
parture at daybreak next morning. 

Meantime we went out into the town to make the necessary 
supply of provisions. To guard against the possibility of being 
inundation-bound for several days, we bought a quantity of small 
loaves fried in mutton fat, and for our animals we procured a 
quantity of the most portable forage we could find. 

Next morning we departed full of confidence in the goodness of 
God. Our Tartar host, who insisted upon escorting us out of the 
town, led us to an elevation whence we could see in the distance 
a long line of thick vapour which seemed journeying û'om west to 
east; it marked the course of the Yellow River. "Where you see 
that vapour," said the old man, " you will find a great dike, which 
serves to keep the river in bounds, except upon any extraordinaiy 
rise of the waters. That dike is now dry ; when you come to it, 
proceed along it until you reach the little pagoda you see yonder, 
on your right ; there you will find a boat that will convey you 
across the river. Keep that pagoda in sight, and you can't lose 
your way." We cordially thanked the old man for the kindness he 
had shown us and proceeded on our journey. 

We were soon up to the knees of the camels in a thick slimy 
compost of mud and water, covering other somewhat firmer mud, 
over which the poor animals slowly slid on their painful way ; their 
heads tm'ning alternately right and left, their limbs trembling, and 
the sweat exuding from each pore. Everj^ moment we expected 
them to faU beneath us. It was near noon ere we ai-rived at a 
little village, not more than a couple of miles from the place where 
we had left the old man. Here a few wretched people, whose rags 
scarce covered their gaunt frames, came round us, and accompanied 
us to the edge of a broad piece of water, portion of a lake, which 
they told us, and which, it was quite clear, we must pass before we 
could reach the dike indicated by the Tartar. Some boatmen pro- 
posed to cany us over this lake to the dike. We asked them how 
many sapeks they would charge for the service : — " Oh, very little ; 
next to nothing. You see we will take in oui' boats you, and the 
baggage, and the mule, and the horse ; one of oiu' people will lead 
the camels through the lake ; they are too big to come into the 
boat. When one comes to reckon on all this load, and all the 
trouble and fatigue, the price seems absolutely less than nothing." 
" True, there will be some trouble in the afiair, no one denies it; 
but let us have a distinct understanding. How many sapeks do 


you ask?" "Oh, scarcely any. We are all brothers; and you, 
brothers, need all our assistance in travelling. We know that; we feel 
it in our liearts. If we could only afford it, we should have plea- 
sure in caiTying you over for nothing; but look at our clothes. 
We poor fellows are veiy poor. Our boat is all we have to depend 
upon. It is necessaiy that we should gain a livelihood by that; 
five lis sail, three men, a horse, a mule, and luggage ; but come, as 
you are spiritual persons, we will only charge you 2,000 sapeks." 
The price was preposterous ; we made no answer. We took our 
animals by the bridle and tm-ned back, pretending that we would 
not continue our journey. Scarcely had we advanced twenty paces 
before the ferryman ran after us. " Sirs Lamas, are not you 
going to cross the water in my boat?" "Why," said we drily, 
" doubtless you are too rich to take any trouble in the matter. If 
you really wanted to let your boat, would you ask 2,000 sapeks?" 
" 2,000 sapeks is the price I ask; but what will you give?" "If 
you like to take 500 sapeks, let us set out at once; it is already 
late.'" "Return, Sir Lamas; get into the boat;" and he caught 
hold, as he spoke, of the halters of our beasts. We considered that 
the price was at last fixed ; but we had scarcely arrived on the 
border of the lake, when the ferryman exclaimed to one of his 
comrades, — " Come, our fortune deserts us to-day ; we must bear 
much fatigue for little remuneration. We shall have to row five 
lis, and after all we shall have only 1,500 sapeks to divide between 
eight of us." " 1,500 sapeks ! " exclaimed we; " you are mocking 
us; we will leave you; " and we turned back for the second time. 
Some mediators, inevitable persons in all Chinese matters, pre- 
sented themselves, and undertook to settle the fare. It was at 
length decided that we should pay 800 sapeks; the sum was 
enormous, but we had no other means of pursuing our way. The 
boatmen knew this, and took accordingly the utmost advantage of 
our position. 

The embarkation was effected with extraordinary celerity, and 
we soon quitted the shore. Whilst we advanced by means of the 
oars, on the surface of the lake, a man mounted on a camel and 
leading two others after him, followed a path traced out by a small 
boat rowed by a waterman. The latter was obliged every now and 
then to sound the depth of the water, and the camel-driver needed 
to be very attentive in directing his course in the straight trail left 
by the boat, lest he should be swallowed up in the holes beneath 
the water. The camels advanced slowly, stretching out their long 
necks, and at times leaving only their heads and the extremity of 
their humps visible above the lake. We were in continual alarm ; 
for these animals not being able to swim, there only needed a false 



Step to precipitate them to the bottom. Thanks to the pro- 
tection of God, all arrived safe at the dike which had been 
pointed out to us. The boatmen, after assisting us to replace, in 
a hasty manner, our baggage on the camels, indicated the point 
wliither we must direct our steps. "Do you see, to the right,* 
that small Miao? (pagoda). A little from the ]\Iiao, do you 
observe those wooden huts and those black nets hanging from 
long poles ? There you will find the ferry-boat to cross the river. 
Follow this dike, and go in peace." 



After having proceeded with difiBculty for half an hour, we 
reached the feiTy-boat. The boatmen immediately came to us. 
" Sirs Lamas," said they, "you intend, doubtless, to cross the Hoang- 
Ho, but you see this evening the thing is impracticable— the sun 
is just setting." " You are right; we will cross to-morrow at day- 
break : meanwhile, let us settle the price, so that to-morrow we 
may lose no time in deliberation." The watermen would have 
preferred waiting till the morrow to discuss this important point, 
expecting we should offer a much larger sum, when just about to 
embark. At first their demands were preposterous : happily, there 
were two boats which competed together, othei^v^dse we should have 
been mined. The price was ultimately fixed at 1,000 sapeks. The 
passage was not long, it is time, for the river had nearly resumed 
its bed; but the waters were very rapid, and, moreover, the camels 
had to ride. The amount, enormous in itself, appeared, upon the 


whole, moderate, considering the diflBciilty and trouble of the pas- 
sage. This business arranged, we considered how we should pass 
the night. We could not think of seeking an asylum in the JSsher- 
men's cabins ; even if they had been sufficiently large, we should 
have had a considerable objection to place our effects in the hands 
of these folks. We were sufficiently acquainted with the Chinese 
not to trust to their honesty. We looked out for a place whereon to 
set up our tent ; but we could find nowhere a spot sufficiently dry : 
mud or stagnant water covered the ground in all dii^ections. About 
a hundred yards from the shore was a small Miao, or temple of 
idols ; a narrow, high path led to it. We proceeded thither to see 
if we could find there a place of repose. It turned out as we wished. 
A portico, supported by three stone pillars, stood before the en- 
trance door, which was secured by a large padlock. This portico, 
made of granite, was raised a few feet from the ground, and 
you ascended it by five steps. We determined to pass the 
night here. 

Samdadchiemba asked us if it would not be a monstrous super- 
stition to sleep on the steps of a Miao. When we had relieved his 
scruples, he made sundry philosophical reflections. " Behold," 
said he, " a Miao which has been built by the people of the 
country, in honour of the god of the river. Yet, when it rained in 
Thibet, the Pou-sa had no power to preserve itself from inundation. 
Nevertheless, this Miao serves at present to shelter two missionaries 
of Jehovah — the only real use it has ever served." Om* Dchiahour, 
who at first had scrupled to lodge under the portico of this idola- 
trous temple, soon thought the idea magnificent, and laughed 

After having arranged our luggage in this singular encampment, 
we proceeded to tell oiu- beads on the shores of the Hoang-Ho. 
The moon was brilliant, and lit up this immense river, which rolled 
over an even and smooth bed its yellow and tumultuous waters. 
The Hoang-Ho is beyond a doubt one of the finest rivers in the 
world ; it rises in the mountains of Thibet, and crosses the Koukou- 
Noor, entering China by the province of Kan-Sou. Thence it follows 
the sandy regions at the feet of the Alécha mountains, encii'cles 
the country of the Ortous ; and after having watered China first 
from north to south, and then from west to east, it falls into 
the Yellow Sea. The watei'S of the Hoang-Ho, pure and clear 
at their source, only take the yellow hue alter having passed 
the sands of the Alécha and the Ortous. They are almost, 
throughout, level with the lands through which they flow, and 
it is this circumstance which occasions those inundations so 
disastrous to the Chinese. As for the Tai'tar nomads, when the 


waters rise, all they have to do is to strike their tents, and drive 
their herds elsewhere.^ 

Though the Yellow River had cost us so much trouble, we 
derived much satisfaction from taking a walk at night upon its 
solitaiy banks, and listening to the solemn murmur of its majestic 
waters. We were contemplating this gi-and work of nature, when 
Samdadchiemba recalled us to the prose of life, by announcing that 
the oatmeal was ready. Our repast was as brief as it was plain. 
TVe then stretched ourselves on oiu' goat-skins, in the portico, so 
that the three described the three sides of a triangle, in the centre 
of which we piled our baggage ; for we had no faith at all that the 
sanctity of the place would deter robbers, if robbers there were in 
the vicinity. 

As we have mentioned, the little Miao was dedicated to the 
divinity of the Yellow River. The idol, seated on a jîedestal of gi-ey 
brick, was hideous, as all those idols are that you ordinarily see in 
Cliinese pagodas. From a broad, flat, red face, rose two great 
staring eyes, like eggs stuck into orbits, the smaller end projecting. 
Thick eyebrows, instead of describing a horizontal line, began at 
the bottom of each ear, and met in the middle of the forehead, so 
as to form an obtuse angle. The idol had on its head a marine 
shell, and brandished, with a menacing air, a sword like a scythe. 
This Poa-sa had, right and left, two attendants, each putting out its 
tongue, and apparently making faces at it. 

Just as we were lying down, a man approached us, holding in 
one hand a small paper lantern. He opened the grating which led 
to the interior of the Miao, prostrated himself thrice, burned incense 
in the censers, and lighted a small lamp at the feet of the idol. 
This personage was not a bonze. His hair, hanging in a ti'ess, and 
his blue garments, showed him to be a layman. When he had 
finished his idolatrous ceremonies, he came to us. ** I will leave 
the door open,", said he ; " you'll sleej) more comfortably inside than 
in the portico." " Thanks," replied we ; " shut the door, however ; 
for we shall do veiy well where we are. Why have you been 
burning incense ? Who is the idol of this place?" "It is the 

* The bed of the Yellow River has undergone numerous and notable variations. 
In ancient times, its mouth was situated in the Gulf of Pe-Tchi-Li, in latitude 39. 
At present it is in the 34th parallel, twenty-five leagues from the primitive point. 
The Chinese government is compelled annually to expend enonnous sums in keep- 
ing the river within its bed and preventing inundations. In 1779, the embank- 
ment for this purpose cost no less a sum than ^'1,600,000. Yet, despite these 
precautions, inundations are of frequent occurrence ; for the bed of the Yellow 
River, in the provinces of Ho-Nan and Kiang-Sou, is higher for 200 leagues than 
the plain through which it passes. This bed, continuing to rise, with the quantity 
of mud deposited, there is inevitably impending, at no remote period, an awfixl 
catastrophe, involving in death and desolation all the adjacent district. 


spirit of the Hoang-Ho, who inhabits this Miao. I have burned 
incense before him, in order that our fishing may be productive, and 
that our boats may float without danger." "The words you utter," 
cried Samdadchiemba, insolently, " are mere hou-choue (stuff and 
nonsense). How did it happen, that the other day when the in 
undation took place, the Miao was flooded, and your Pou-sa was 
covered with mud?" To this sudden apostrophe the pagan 
churchwarden made no answer, but took to his heels. We were 
much surprised at this proceeding ; but the explanation came next 

We stretched ourselves on our goat-skins once more, and 
endeavoured to sleep, but sleep came slowly and but for a brief 
period. Placed between marshes and the river, we felt throughout 
the night a piercing cold, which seemed to transfix us to the very 
marrow. The sky was pure and serene, and in the morning we 
saw that the marshes around were covered with a thick sheet of ice. 
We made our preparations for departure, but upon collecting the 
various articles, a handkerchief was missing. We remembered that 
we had imprudently hung it upon the grating at the entrance of the 
Miao, so that it was half in and half out of the building. No per- 
son had been near the place, except the man who had come to pay 
his devotions to the idol. We could, therefore, without much rash- 
ness, attribute the robbery to him, and this explained why he 
had made liis exit so rapidly, without replying to Samdadchiemba. 
We could easily have found the man, for he was one of the fisher- 
men engaged upon the station, but it would have been a fruitless 
labour. Our only eflectual course would have been to seize the 
thief in the fact. 

Next morning, we placed our baggage upon the camels, and 
proceeded to the river side, fully persuaded that we had a miserable 
day before us. The camels having a horror of the water, it is some- 
times impossible to make them get into a boat. . You may pidl 
their noses, or nearly kill them with blows, yet not make them 
advance a step ; they would die sooner. The boat before us seemed 
especially to present almost insurmountable obstacles. It was not 
flat and large, like those which generally serve as ferry-boats. Its 
sides were very high, so that the animals were obliged to leap 
over them at the risk and peril of breaking their- legs. If you 
wanted to move a caniage into it, you had first of all to puU the 
vehicle to pieces. 

The boatmen had already taken hold of our baggage, for the pur- 
pose of conveying it into their abominable vehicle, but we stopped 
them, " Wait a moment ; we must first try and get the camels in. 
If they won't enter the boat, there is no use in placing tlie baggage 


in it." ""alienee came your camels, that they can't get into 
people's boats'?" " It matters little whence they came; what we 
tell you is that the tall white camel has never hitherto consented 
to cross any river, even in a flat boat." " Tall camel or short, 
flat boat or high boat, into the boat the camel shall go," and so 
saying, the ferryman ran and fetched an immense cudgel. '* Catch 
hold of the string in the camel's nose," cried he to a companion. 
"We'll see if we can't make the brute get into the boat." The 
man in the boat hauled at the string ; the man behind beat the 
animal vehemently on the legs with his cudgel, but all to no 
purpose ; the poor camel sent forth piercing cries, and stretched 
out its long neck. The blood flowed fi'om its nostrils, the sweat 
fi'om every pore ; but not an inch forward would the creature 
move ; yet one step would have placed it in the boat, the sides of 
which were touched by its fore legs. 

We could not endure the painful spectacle. " No more of this," 
we cried to the ferryman; " it is useless to beat the animal. You 
might break its legs or kill it before it would consent to enter your 
boat." The two men at once left ofl", for they were tu-ed, the one 
of pulling, the other of beating. What were we to do ? We had 
almost made up our minds to ascend the banks of the river until 
we found some flat boat, when the ferryman all at once jumped up, 
radiant with an idea. " We will make another attempt," cried he, 
" and if that fails I give the matter up. Take the string gently," he 
added, to a companion, " and keep tlie camel's feet as close as ever 
you can to the side of the boat." Then, going back for some paces, 
he dashed forward with a spring and threw himself with all his 
weight upon the animal's rear. The shock, so violent and unex- 
pected, occasioned the camel somewhat to bend its fore legs. A 
second shock immediately succeeded the first, and the animal, in 
order to prevent itself from falhng into the water, had no remedy 
but to raise its feet and place them within the boat. This eflected, 
the rest was easy. A few pinches of the nose and a few blows 
sufficed to impel the hind legs after the fore, and the white camel 
was at last in the boat, to the extreme satisfaction of all present. 
The other animals were embarked after the same fashion, and we 
proceeded on our watery way. 

First, however, the ferryman deemed it necessary that the 
animals should kneel, so that no movement of theirs on the river 
might occasion an overtimi. His proceeding to this eflect was 
exceedingly comic. He first went to one camel and then to the 
other, pulling now this down, then that. When he approached 
the larger animal, the creature, remembering the man's treatment, 
discharged in his face a quantity of the gi-ass ruminating within its 


jaws, a compliment which the boatman returned by spitting in the 
ammal's face. And the absurdity was, that the work made no pro- 
gress. One camel was no sooner induced to kneel down than the 
other got up, and so the men went backwards and forwards, 
gradually covered by the angry creatures with the green substance, 
half masticated and particularly inodorous, which each animal in 
turns spat against him. At length, when Samdadchiemba had 
sufficiently entertained himself with the scene, he went to the 
camels, and, exercising his recognised authority over them, made 
them kneel in the manner desired. 

We at length floated upon the waters of the Yellow River ; but 
though there were four boatmen, their united strength could scarcely 
make head against the force of the current. We had effected 
about half our voyage, when a camel suddenly rose, and shook the 
boat so violently that it was nearly upset. The boatmen, after 
ejaculating a tremendous oath, told us to look after our camels and 
prevent them from getting up, unless we wanted the whole party to 
be engulphed. The danger was indeed formidable. The camel, 
infirm upon its legs, and yielding to every movement of the boat, 
menaced us with a catastrophe. Samdadchiemba, however, ma- 
naged to get quickly beside the animal, and at once induced it to 
kneel, so that we were let off with our fright, and in due course 
reached the other side of the river. 

At the moment of disembarkation, the horse, impatient to be 
once more on land, leaped out of the boat, but striking, on its way, 
against the anchor, fell on its side in the mud. The ground 
not being yet dry, we were fain to take off our shoes, and to carry 
the baggage on our shoulders to an adjacent eminence ; there we 
asked the boatmen if we should be any great length of time in 
traversing the marsh and mud that lay stretched out befoie us. 
The chief boatman raised his head, and after looking for a while 
towards the sun, said: " It will soon be noon; by the evening you 
will reach the banks of the Little River ; to-morrow you will find 
the ground dry." It was under these melancholy auspices that we 
proceeded upon our journey, through one of the most detestable 
districts to be found in the whole world. 

We had been told in what direction we were lo proceed; but 
the inundation had obliterated every trace of path and even of road, 
and we could only regulate our course by the nature of the ground, 
keeping as clear as we could of the deeper quagmires, sometimes 
making a long circuit in order to reach what seemed firmer gi'ound, 
and then, finding the supposed solid turf to be nothing more than 
a piece of water, green with stagnant matter and aquatic plants, 
liaving to turn back, and, as it were, grope one's way in another 


direction, fearful, at every step, of being plunged into some gulf of 
liquid mud. 

By-and-by, our animals alarmed and wearied, could hardly 
proceed, and we were compelled to beat them severely and to ex- 
haust our voices with bawling at them before they would move at 
all. The tall gi'ass and plants of the marshes twisted about their 
legs, and it was only by leaps, and at the risk of throwing ofiP both 
baggage and riders that they could exti'icate themselves. Thrice 
did the youngest camel lose its balance and fall ; but on each occa- 
sion, the spot on which it fell was providentially dry ; had it stum- 
bled in the mud, it would inevitably have been stifled. 

On om- way, we met three Chinese travellers, who, by the aid 
of long staves, were making their laborious way through the 
marshes, cariying their shoes and clothes over their shoulders. 
We asked them in what direction we were likely to find a better 
road: "You would have been wiser," said they, " had you remained 
at Tchagan-Kouren ; foot passengers can scarcely make their way 
through these marshes : how do you suppose you can get on with 
your camels?" and with this consolatory assurance, they quitted 
us, giving us a look of compassion, certain as they were that we 
should never get through the mud. 

The sun was just setting, when we perceived a Mongol habita- 
tion ; we made our way direct to it, without heeding the difficulties 
of the road. In fact experience had already taught us that selec 
tion was quite out of the question, and that one way was as good 
as another in this universal slough. Making circuits merely 
lengthened the journey. The Tartars were frightened at our ap- 
pearance, covered as we were with mud and perspiration; they 
immediately gave us some tea, and generously offered us the hospi- 
tality of their dwelling. The small mud house in which they lived, 
though built upon an eminence, had been half carried away by the 
inundation. We could not conceive what had induced them to fix 
their abode in this homble district, but they told us that they were 
employed to tend the herds belonging to some Chinese of Tchagan- 
Kouren. After resting for a while, we requested information as 
to the best route to pursue, and we were told that the river was 
only five lis off, that its banks were dry, and that we should find 
there boats to carry us to the other side. " When you have crossed 
the Paga-Gol," (Little River,) said our hosts, " you may proceed in 
peace ; you will meet with no more water to internipt you." We 
thanked these good Tartars for their kindness, and resiuned our 

After half an hour's march, we discovered before us a large 
extent of water, studded with fishing-vessels. The title. Little 



River, may, for anything we know, be appropriate enough under 
ordinary circumstances, but at the time of our visit, the Paga-Gol 
was a broad sea. We pitched our tent on the bank which, by 
reason of its elevation, was perfectly dry, and the remarkable ex- 
cellence of the pasturage determined us upon remaining in this 
place several days, in order to give rest to our animals, which, since 
their departure from Tchagan-Kouren had undergone enormous 
fatigue : we ourselves, too, felt the necessity of some relaxation, 
after the sufieriugs which these horrible marshes had inflicted 
upon us. 



Mercurial Preparation for the Destruction of Lice — Dirtiness of the Mongols — 
Lama Notions about the Metempsychosis — Washing — Regulations of No- 
madic Life — Aquatic and Passage Birds — The Yuen-Yang — The Dragon's 
Foot — Fishermen of the Paga-Gol — Fishing Party — Fisherman Bit by a Dog 
— Kou-Kouo, or St. Ignatius's Bean — Prepai-ations for Departure — Passage of 
the Paga-Gol — Dangers of the Voyage — Devotion of Samdadchiemba — The 
Prime Minister of the King of the Ortous — Encampment. 

Upon taking possession of our post our first business was to exca- 
vate a ditch roiu2d the tent, in order that, should rain occur, the 
water might he carried into a pond below. The excavated earth 
seized to make a mound roimd the tent ; and, within, the pack- 
saddles and furniture of the camels formed very comfortable bed- 
steads for us. Having made our new habitation as neat as possible, 
the next business was to make our persons neat also. 

We had now been travelling for nearly six weeks, and still wore 
the same clothing we had assumed on oiu- departure. The inces- 
sant pricklings with which we were harassed, sufficiently indicated 
that om' attire was peopled with the filthy vermin to which the 
Chinese and Tartars are familiarly accustomed, but which with 
Europeans ai-e objects of horror and disgust, — lice, which of all 


our miseries on our long journey have been the greatest. Hunger 
and thirst, fierce winds and piercing cold, wild beasts, robbers, 
avalanches, menaced death and actual discomfort, all had been as 
nothing compared with the incessant misery occasioned by these 
dreadful vermin. 

Before quitting Tchagen-Kouren we had bought in a chemist's 
shop a few sapeks' worth of mercury. We now made with it a 
prompt and specific remedy against the lice. We had formerly 
got this receipt from some Chinese, and as it may be useful to 
others, we think it right to describe it here. You take half-an-ounce 
of mercury, which you mix with old tea-leaves, previously reduced 
to paste by mastication. To render this softer, you generally add 
saliva, water would not have the same efiect. You must afterwards 
bruise and stir it awhile, so that the mercury may be divided 
into little balls as fine as dust. You infuse this composition into a 
string of cotton, loosely twisted, which you hang round the neck ; 
the lice are sui-e to bite at the bait, and they thereupon as surely 
swell, become red, and die forthwith. In Cliina and in Tartary you 
have to renew this sanitary necklace once a month, for, otherwise, 
in these dirty countries you could not possibly keep clear from 
vermin, which swarm in every Chinese house and in every Mongol 

The Tartars are acquainted with the cheap and efficacious anti- 
louse mixture I have described, but they make no use of it. Ac- 
customed fi'om their infancy to live amid vermin, they at last take 
no heed whatever of them, except, mdeed, when the number 
becomes so excessive as to involve the danger of their being abso- 
lutely eaten up. Upon such a juncture they strip off their clothes, 
and have a grand battue, all the members of the family and any 
fiiends who may have dropped in, taking part in the sport. Even 
Lamas, who may be present, share in the hunt, with this distinction, 
that they do not kill the game, but merely catch it and tlu-ow it 
away ; the reason being, that, according to the doctrine of metem- 
psychosis, to kill any living being whatever, is to incur the danger 
of homicide, since the smallest insect before you may be the trans- 
migration of a man. Such is the general opinion ; but we have 
met with Lamas whose views on this subject were more enlight- 
ened. They admitted that j)ersons belonging to the sacerdotal 
class should abstain from killing animals; but not, said they, in 
fear of committing a murder by killing a man transmigrated into 
an animal, but because to kill is essentially antagonistic with the 
gentleness which should characterise a man of prayer, who is ever 
in communication with the Deity. 

There are some Lamas who carry this scruple to a point 


approaching the pnei-ile, so that as they ride along, they are con- 
stantly manœuvring their horses in and out, here and there, in 
order to avoid trampling upon some insect or other that presents 
itself in their path. Yet say they, the holiest among them occasion 
inadvertently, the death, every day, of a gi-eat many living crea- 
tures. It is to expiate these involuntaiy murders that they undergo 
fasting and penitence, that they recite certain prayers, and that 
they make prostrations. 

We who had no such scniples, and whose conscience stood upon 
a solid hasis as to the transmigration of souls, concocted, as effect- 
ively as possihle, our anti-louse preparation, doubling the dose of 
mercuiy in our anxiety to kill the greatest practicable number of 
the veimin that had been so long tormenting us by day and by 

It would have been to little pui*pose merely to kill the present 
vermin ; it was necessaiy to withhold any sort of shelter or encou- 
ragement fi-om their too probable successors, and the first point, 
with this view, was to wash all our under-clothing, which, for some 
time past, had not been subjected to any sucli operation. For 
nearly two months since our departure, we had been wholly de- 
pendent, in all respects, upon ourselves, and this necessity had 
compelled us to learn a little of various professions with which we 
had been previously unacquainted ; becoming our own tailors and 
shoe menders, for example, when clothes or shoes required repairs. 
The course of nomadic life now practically introduced us also to 
the occupation of washermen. After boiling some ashes and 
soaking our linen in the lye, we next proceeded to wash it in an 
adjacent pond. One gi-eat stone on which to place the linen when 
washed, and another wherewith to beat it while washing, were our 
only implements of trade; but we got on very well, for the 
softness of the pond water gave every facility for cleansing 
the articles. Before long, we had the delight of seeing oiu- 
linen once more clean ; and when, having diied it on the gi'ass, 
we folded and took it home to our tent, we were quite radiant 
with satisfaction. 

The quiet and ease which we enjoyed in this encampment, 
rapidly remedied the fatigue we had undergone in the marshes. 
The weather was magnificent; all that we could have possibly 
desired. By day, a gentle, soothing heat ; by night, a sky pure 
and serene; plenty of fuel; excellent and abundant pasturage; 
nitrous water, which our camels delighted in ; in a word, eveiything 
to renovate the health and revive the spirits. Our rule of daily life 
may appear odd enougli to some, and perhaps not altogether in 
harmony with the regulations of monastic houses, but it was in 


exact adaptation to the circumstances and wants of our little 

Every morning, with the first dawn, before the earliest rays of 
the sun struck upon our tent, we rose spontaneously, requiring 
neither call-bell nor valet to rouse us. Our brief toilette made, 
we rolled up our goat-skins and placed them in a corner ; then we 
swept out the tent, and put the cooking utensils in order, for we 
were desirous of having everything about us as clean and com 
fortable as possible. All things go by comparison in this world 
The interior of our tent, which would have made a European 
laugh, filled with admiration the Tartars who from time to time 
paid us a visit. The cleanliness of our wooden cups, our kettle 
always well polished, our clothes not altogether as yet incrusted 
with grease ; all this contrasted favourably with the dirt and dis- 
order of Tartar habitations. 

Having arranged our apartment, we said prayers together, and 
then dispersed each apart in the desert to engage in meditation 
upon some pious thought. Oh ! little did we need, amid the pro 
found silence of those vast solitudes, a printed book to suggest a 
subject for prayer ! The void and vanity of all things here below, 
the majesty of God, the inexhaustible measures of his Providence, 
the shortness of life, the essentiality of labouring with a view to the 
world to come, and a thousand other salutary reflections, came of 
themselves, without any effort on our parts, to occupy the mind 
with gentle musings. In the desert the heart of man is free; he 
is subject to no species of tyranny. Far away from us were all 
those hollow theories and systems, those Utopias of imaginai y 
happiness which men are constantly aiming at, and which as 
constantly evade their grasp ; those inexhaustible combinations of 
selfishness and self-sufficiency, those burning passions which in 
Europe are ever contending, ever fermenting in men's minds and 
hardening their hearts. Amid these silent prairies there was 
nothing to disturb our tranquil thoughts, or to prevent us from 
reducing to their true value the futilities of this world, from appre- 
ciating at their lofty worth the things of God and of eternity. 

The exercise which followed these meditations was, it must be 
admitted, far from mystic in its character ; but it was necessary, 
and not wholly without entertainment in its course. Each of us 
hung a bag from his shoulders and went in different directions to 
seek argols for fuel. Those who have never led a nomadic life 
will, of course, find it difficult to understand how this occupation 
could possibly develope any enjoyment. Yet, when one is lucky 
enough to find, half concealed among the grass, an argol, recom- 
mendable for its size and dryness, there comes over the heart a 


gentle joj', one of those sudden emotions which create a transient 
happiness. The pleasure at finding a fine ai-gol is cognate with 
that whicli the hunter feels when he discovers the track of game, 
with which the boy regai'ds, his eyes sparkling, the linnet's nest he 
has long sought ; with which the fisherman sees quivering at the 
end of his line a large fish ; nay, if we may compare small things 
with giTat, one might even compai-e this pleasure with the enthu- 
siasm of a Leverrier when he has discovered a new planet. 

Our sack, once filled with argols, we returned, and piled the 
contents with pride at the entrance of the tent ; then we struck a 
light and set the fire in movement ; and while the tea was boiling in 
the pot, pounded the meal and put some cakes to bake in the 
ashes. The repast, it is observable, was simple and modest, but 
it was always extremely delicious, first, because we had prepared 
it oui'selves, and secondly, because oiu' appetites provided most 
efficient seasoning. 

After breakfast, while Samdadchiemba was collecting round the 
tent the animals which had dispersed in search of pastm-age, we 
recited a portion of oui" breviary. Towards noon we indulged in 
a brief repose, a few minutes of gentle but sound sleep, never in- 
teniipted by nightmare or by unpleasant dreams. This repose 
was aU the more necessary that the evenings were prolonged far 
into the night. It was always with difficulty that we tore our- 
selves fi'om our walks by moonlight on the banks of the river. 
During the day all was silent and tranquil around us; but so soon 
as the shades of night began to overspread the desert, the scene 
became animated and noisy. Aquatic birds, arriving in immense 
flocks, difi^Lised themselves over the vai'ious pools, and soon 
thousands of shrill cries filled the air with wild haimony. The 
cries of anger, the accents of passion, proceeding from those 
myriads of migratoiy birds, as they disputed among themselves 
possession of the tufts of marsh gi-ass in wliich they desired to 
pass the night, gave one quite the idea of a nrmierous people in 
all the fuiy of civil war, fighting and clamouring, in agitation and 
violence, for some supposed advantage, brief as this eastern night, 

Tartary is populated with nomadic bii'ds. Look up when you 
may, you ^vill see them floating high in air, the vast battalions 
forming, in their systematically capricious ffight, a thousand fantas- 
tic outlines, dissipating as soon as formed, forming again as soon 
as dissipated, like the creations of a Kaleidoscope. Oh! how 
exactly are these migi-ant bh-ds in their place, amid the deserts of 
Tartaiy, where man himself is never fixed in one spot, but is con- 
stantly on the move. It was veiy pleasant to listen to the distant 
hum of these winged bands, wandering about like oiu-selves. As 


we reflected upon theii' long peregrinations, and glanced in thought 
over the countries which their rapid flight must have comj)rehended, 
the recollection of our native land came vividly before us. " Who 
knows," we would say to each other, " who knows but that among 
these birds there are some who have traversed — who have, perhaps, 
alighted for awhile in our dear France : who have sought transient 
repose and refreshment in the plains of Languedoc, or on the 
heights of the Jura. After visiting our own country, they have 
doubtless pm'sued their route towards the north of Europe, and 
have come hither through the snows of Siberia, and of Upper 
Tartary. Oh! if these birds could understand our words, or if 
we could speak their tongue, how many questions should we not 
put to them!" Alas! we did not then know that for two years more 
we should be deprived of all communication with our native land. 
The migratory birds which visit Tartary are for the most part 
known in Europe; such as wild geese, wild ducks, teal, storks, 
bustajcds, and so on. There is one bird which may deserve par- 
ticular mention : the Youen-Yang, an aquatic bird frequenting 
ponds and marshes ; it is of the size and form of the wild duck, 
but its beak, instead of being flat, is round, its red head is sprinkled 
with white, its tail is black, and the rest of its plumage a fine 
purple ; its cry is exceedingly loud and mournful, not the song of 
a bird, but a sort of clear, prolonged sigh, resembling the plaintive 
tones of a man under suffering. These birds always go in pairs ; 
they frequent, in an especial manner, desert and marshy j^laces. 
You see them incessantly skimming over the sm-face of the waters 
without the couple ever separating from each other ; if one flies 
away, the other immediately follows ; and that which dies first does 
not leave its companion long in widowhood, for it is soon consumed 
by sorrow and lonesomeness. Youen is the name of the male, 
Yang that of the female : Youen-Yang their common denomination. 
We remarked in Tartary another species of migratory bird, 
which offers various peculiaiities singular in themselves, and per- 
haps unknown to naturalists. It is about the size of a quail; its 
eyes, of a brilliant black, are encircled by a magnificent ring of 
azure ; its body is of ash colour, speckled with black ; its legs, 
instead of feathers, are covered with a sort of long, rough hair, 
like that of the musk-deer ; its feet are totally different from those 
of any other bird; they exactly resemble the paws of the green 
lizard, and are covered with scales so hard as to resist the edge of 
the sharpest knife. This singular creature, therefore, partakes at 
once of the bird, of the quadruped, and of the reptile. The 
Chinese call it Loung-Kio (Dragon's Foot). These birds make 
their periodical appearance in vast numbers from the north, 


especially after a gi*eat fall of snow. They fly with astonishing 
swiftness, and the movement of then- wings makes a loud, rattling 
noise, like that of heavy hail. 

While we had the charge, in Northern Mongolia, of the little 
Christendom of the Valley of Black Waters, one of our Christians, 
a skilful huntsman, brought us two of these birds which he had 
caught alive. They were excessively ferocious ; no sooner was 
your It and extended to touch them, than the hair on theii* legs 
bristled ; and if you had the temerity to stroke them, you instantly 
were assailed with vehement strokes of the bill. Tlie nature of 
these Dragon's Feet was evidently so wild as to preclude the possi- 
bility of preserving them alive: they would touch nothing we 
offered them. Perceiving, therefore, that they must soon die of 
starvation, we determined to kill and eat them ; their flesh was of 
agreeable, pheasant-like savour, but terribly tough. 

The Tartars might easily take any number of these migratory 
birds, especially of the wild geese and ducks, the crowds of which are 
perfectly prodigious ; and take them, moreover, without the expen- 
diture of a single ounce of powder, by merely laying traps for them 
on the banks of the pools, or by surprising them in the night, 
amongst the aquatic plants; but as we have before observed, the 
flesh of wild creatiu'es is not at all to the taste of the Tartars ; 
there is nothing to their palates at all comparable with a joint of 
mutton, veiy fat and half boiled. 

The Mongols are equally disinchned to fishing ; and accordingly, 
the highly productive lakes and poids which one meets with so 
frequently in Tartary, have become the property of Chinese specu 
lators, who, with the characteristic knavery of their nation, having 
first obtained from the Tartar kings permission to fish in their 
states, have giadually converted this toleration into a monopoly 
most rigorously enforced. The Paga-Gol (Little Eiver), near which 
we were now encamped, has several Chinese fishing stations upon 
its banks. Tliis Paga-Gol is formed by the junction of two rivers, 
which, taking their source from the two sides of a hill, flow in 
opposite directions; the one, nmning towards the north, falls into 
the Yellow River; the other, proceeding southwards, swells the 
cuiTent of another stream, which itself also falls into the Hoang- 
Ho ; but at the time of the gi'eat inundations, the two rivers, in 
common -«-ith the hill which separates their coui'se, all alike dis- 
appear. The overflowing of the Hoang-Ho reunites the two cur- 
rents, and that which then presents itself is a large expanse of 
water, the breadth of which extends to nearly two miles. At tliis 
period, the fish which abound in the Yellow River repair in shoals 
to this new basin, wherein the waters remain collected until the 



commencement of the winter; and during the autumn, this little 
sea is covered in all directions with the boats of Chinese fisliermen, 
whose habitations for the fishing season are miserable cabins con- 
structed on either bank. 

During the first night of our encampment in this locality, we 
were kept awake by a strange noise, constantly recurring in the 
distance : as it seemed to us, the mufiied and irregular roll of 
drums ; with day-break the noise continued, but more intermittent 
and less loud ; it apparently came from the water. We went out 
and proceeded towards the bank of the lake, wliere a fisherman, 
who was boiling his tea in a little kettle, supported by three stones, 
explained the mystery ; he told us that during the night, all the 
fishermen seated in their barks, keep moving over the water, in 
all directions, beating wooden drums for the purpose of alarming 
the fish, and driving them towards the places wliere the nets are 
spread. The poor man whom we interrogated had himself passed 
the whole night in this painful toil. His red, swollen eyes and his 
drawn face clearly indicated that it was long since he had enjoyed 
adequate rest. "Just now," he said, "we have a great deal of 
work upon our hands ; there is no time to be lost if we wish to 
make any money of the business. The fishing season is very short ; 
at the outside not more than three months; and a few days hence 
we shall be obliged to withdraw. The Paga-Gol will be frozen, 
and not a fish will be obtainable. You see, Sirs Lamas, we have 
no time to lose. I have passed all the night hunting the fish 
about; when I have drunk some tea and eaten a few spoonfuls of 
oatmeal, I shall get into my boat, and visit the nets I have laid 
out there westward ; then I shall deposit the fish I have taken in 
the osier reservoirs you see yonder; then I shall examine my nets, 
and mend them if they need mending; tlien I shall take a brief 
repose, and after that, when, the old grandfather (the sun) goes 
down, I shall once more cast my nets ; then I shall row over the 
water, now here, now there, beating my drum, and so it goes on." 
These details interested us, and as our occupations at the moment 
were not very urgent, we asked the fisherman if he would allow us 
to accompany him when he went to raise his nets. " Since per- 
sonages like you," answered he, " do not disdain to get into my 
poor boat and to view my unskilful and disagreeable fishing, I 
accept the benefit you propose." Hereupon we sat down in a corner 
of his rustic hearth to wait until he had taken his repast. The 
meal of the fisherman was as short as the preparations for it had 
been hasty. When the tea was sufficiently boiled, he poured out a 
basin full of it; threw into this a handful of oatmeal, wliich he 
partially kneaded with his fore finger ; and then, after having 


pressed it a little, and rolled it into a sort of cake, he swallowed it 
%A-ithout any other preparation. After having three or foiu' times 
repeated the same operation, the dinner was at an end. This 
manner of living had nothing in it to excite our cm-iosity; having 
adopted tlie nomad way of living, a sufficiently long' experience 
had made it familiar to us. 

We entered his small hoat and proceeded to enjoy the pleasure 
of fishing. After having relislied for some moments the delight of 
a quiet sail on the tranquil water, smooth and unbroken as glass > 




tlu'ough troops of cormorants and wild geese, which were disporting 
on the surface of the expanse, and which, half running, half flying, 
made a fi'ee passage for us as we advanced, we reached the place 
where the nets lay. At intervals we saw pieces of wood floating on 
the water, to which the nets were attached which rested at the bot- 
tom. When we drew them up we saw the fish glitter as they 
straggled in the meshes. These fish were generally large, but the 
fisherman only kept the largest; those that were under half a 
pound he tlirew back into the water. 

After having examined a few of the nets, he stopped to see if 
the hawl had baen productive. Already the two wells, constructed 


at the extremities of the boat, were nearly full. " Sirs Lamas,' said 
the fisherman, " do you eat fish? I will sell you some if you please." 
At this proposition, the two poor French missionaries looked at 
each other without saying a word. In that look you might see 
that they were by no means averse from trying the flavour of the 
fish of the Yellow River, but that they dared not, a sufficient reason 
keeping them in suspense. '* How do you sell your fish ? " " Not 
dear; eighty sapeks a pound." "Eighty sapeks ! why that is 
dearer than mutton." " You speak the words of truth; but what 
is mutton compared with the fish of the Hoang-Ho ? " " No matter ; 
it is too dear for us. We have still far to go ; our purse is low, 
we must economize." I'he fisherman did not insist; he took his 
oar, and dii'ected tlie boat towards those nets which had not yet 
been drawn up fiom the water. " For what reason," asked we " do 
you throw back so much fish? Is it because the quality is in 
ferior?" " Oh, no; all the fish in the Y^ellow River are excellent, 
these are too small, that is all." " Ah, just so; next year they will 
be bigger. It is a matter of calculation ; you refrain now, so that 
in the end you may get more by them." The fisherman laughed. " It 
is not that," he said ; "we do not hope to re-capture these fish. 
Every year the basin is filled with fresh fish, brought hither by the 
overflowings of the Hoang-Ho; there come great and small; we 
take the first; and the others we throw back, because they do not 
sell well. The fish here are very abundant. We are able to select 
the best .... Sii s Lamas, if you like to have these little fish, I 
will not throw them back." The offer was accepted, and the small 
fry, as they came, were placed in a little basket. Wlienthe fishing 
was over, we found ourselves possessors of a very respectable 
supply of fish. Before leaving the boat, we washed an old basket, 
and having deposited our fish in it, we marched in triumph 
to the tent. " Where have you been ? " exclaimed Samdadchiemba, 
as soon as he saw us ; " the tea is now boiled, and it soon gets cold : 
I have boiled it up again ; it has again got cold." " Pour out some 
of your tea," answered we. " We will not have oatmeal to-day, 
but some fresh fish. Place some loaves under the ashes to bake." 
Our prolonged absence had put Samdadchiemba in an ill humour. 
His forehead was more contracted than usual, and his small black 
eyes flashed with displeasure. But when he beheld in the basket 
the fish which were still in motion, his face relaxed into a smile, and 
his countenance insensibly grew more cheerful. He opened smihngly 
the bag of flour, the strings of which were never untied except on rare 
occasions. Whilst he was busily occupied with the pastry, we took 
some of the fish, and proceeded to the shores of a lake at a short 
distance from the tent. We had scarcely got there, when Samdad- 


cliiemba ran to us with all his might. He drew aside the four 
corners of the cloth which contained the fish, " What are you 
going to do ? " said he, with an anxious air. " We are going to 
cut open and scale this fish." " Oh, that is not well ; my sj^iritual 
fathers, wait a little ; you must not transgress thus." " What are you 
talking about? Who is committing a sin?" "Why, look at these 
fish; they are still moving. You must let them die in peace, 
before you open them: is it not a sin to kill a living creature?" 
" Go make your bread and let us alone. Are we always to be pestered 
with your notions of metempsychosis ? Do you still think that men 
are transformed into beasts, and beasts into men ? " The lips of 
our Dchiahour opened for a long laugh. " Bah ! " said he, striking 
his forehead, " what a thick head I have ; I did not think of that; I 
had forgotten the doctrine," and he returned not a little ashamed 
at having come to give us such ridiculous advice. 

The fish were fried in mutton fat, and we found them exquisite. 
In Tartary and in the noith of China, the fishing continues to 
the commencement of winter, when the ponds and rivers are frozen. 
At that time they expose to the air, in the night, the fish they have 
kept alive in the reservoirs ; these immediately freeze, and may be 
laid up without trouble. It is in this state that they are sold to 
the fishmongers. During the long winters of the northern part of 
the empire, the wealthy Chinese can always, by this means, procure 
fresh fish ; but great care must be taken not to make too large a 
prox'ision of them to be consumed during the time of the great 
frosts, for on the first thaw the fish become putrid. 

During our few days' rest, we considered the means of crossing 
the Paga-Gol. A Chinese family having obtained from the King 
of the Ortoiis the privilege of conveying travellers across, we were 
obliged to address ourselves to the master of the boat. He had 
undertaken to conduct us to the other side, but we had not yet 
agreed about the fare ; he required upwards of 1,000 sapeks. The 
sum appeared to us exorbitant, and we waited. 

On the third day of our halt, we perceived a fisherman comirg 
towards our tent, dragging himself along with gi'eat difiBculty by 
the aid of a long staff. His pale and extremely meagre face, showed 
that he was a man in suffering. As soon as he had seated himself 
beside our hearth, *' Brother," said we, "it seems that your days are 
not happy." " Ah," said he, " my misfortune is gieat, but what am I 
to do ? I must submit to the irrevocable laws of heaven. It is 
now a fortnight since, as I was going to visit a Mongol tent, I was 
bitten in the leg by a mad dog ; there has been formed a wound 
which grows larger and mortifies day by day. They told me that 
you were from the Western Heaven, and 1 am come to you. The 


men of the Western Heaven, say the Tartar Lamas, have an un- 
limited power. .'With a single word they are able to cure the most 
grievous disorders." " They have deceived you, when they said we 
had such great j)owers ; " and hereupon we took occasion to eluci- 
date to this man the great truths of the faith. But he was a Chinese, 
and, like all his nation, but little heedful of religious matters. Our 
words only glanced over his heart; his hurt absorbed all his 
thoughts. We resolved to treat his case with the Kou-Kouo,. or 
bean of St. Ignatius. This vegetable, of a brown or ashy colour, 
and of a substance which resembles horn, extremely hard, and of 
intolerable bitterness, is a native of the Philijjpine Isles. The 
manner of using the Kou-Kouo is to bruise it in eold water, to 
which it communicates its bitterness. This water, taken inwardly, 
modifies the heat of the blood, and extinguishes internal inflamma- 
tion. It is an excellent specific for all sorts of wounds and con- 
tusions, and, enjoying a high character in the Chinese Materia 
Medica, is sold in all chemists' shops. The veterinary doctors also 
apply it with great success to the internal diseases of cattle and 
sheep. In the north of China we have often witnessed the salutary 
effects of the Kou- K ouo. 

We infused the powder of one of these beans in some cold water, 
with which we washed the poor man's wound, and we supplied some 
(îlean linen, in place of the disgustingly dirty rags which previously 
served for a bandage. When we had done all we could for the 
sufferer, we observed that he still seemed very embarrassed in his 
manner. His face was red with blushes, he held down his eyes, 
and he began several sentences which he could not complete. 
" Brother," said we, " you have something on your mind." " Holy 
personages, you see how poor I am ! you have tended my wound, 
and you have given me a great mug of healing water to take ; I 
know not what I can offer in exchange for all this." " If this be 
the subject of your uneasiness," said we, " be at once reassured. In 
doing what we could for your leg, we only fulfilled a duty com- 
manded by our religion. The remedies we have prepared, we 
freely give you." Our words evidently relieved the poor fisherman 
from a very grave embarrassment. He immediately prostrated 
himself before us, and touched the ground thrice with his forehead, 
in token of his gratitude. Before withdrawing, he asked us whether 
we intended to remain where we were for any length of time. We 
told him that we should gladly depart the next day, but that we had 
not as yet agreed with the ferryman as to the fare. " I have a boat," 
said the fisherman, " and since you have tended my wound, I wiU 
endeavour to-morrow, to convey you over the water. If my boat 
belonged entirely to myself, I would at once undertake the matter ; 


but as I liave tvro pavtners, I must first get their consent. More- 
over, we must procure some particulars as to our course ; we 
fishermen are not acquainted with the depth of water at all the 
points of the passage. There are dangerous places here and there, 
which we must ascertain the exact nature and locality of before- 
hand, so that we may not incur some misfortune. Don't say 
anything more about the matter to the feriy people. I will 
come back in tlie course of tlie evening, and we will talk over 

These words gave u-s hopes of being able to continue our journey, 
without too heavy an outlay for the river passage. As he had 
promised, the fisherman returned in the evening. " My partners," 
said he, "were not at first willing to undertake this job, because it 
would lose them a day's fishing I promised that you would give 
them 400 sapeks, and so the aifair was arranged. To-moiTow we 
will make inquiries as to the best course to follow on the river. 
Next morning, before sun-rise, fold your tent, load yoiu' camels, 
and come do\vn to the river side. If you see any of the feriy ]3eople, 
don't tell them you are going to give us 400 sapeks. As they have 
the sole right of cariying passengei-s for hire, they might prosecute 
lis for carrying you, if they knew you had paid us anything." 

At the appointed hour, we proceeded to the fisherman's hut. 
In a minute the baggage was packed in the boat, and the two 
missionaries seated themselves beside it, attended by the boatman 
whose woimd they had cured. It was agreed that a young com- 
panion of his should ride the horse across tlie shallows, lead- 
ing the mule, while Samdadchiemba, in like manner, was to con- 
duct the camels over. When all was ready we started, the boat 
following one coiu'se, the horses and camels another, tor the latter 
were obliged to make long circuits in order to avoid the deeper 
parts of the river. 

The navigation was at first very pleasant. "We floated tran- 
quilly over the bioad surface of the waters, in a small skiff, jiro- a single man with two light sculls-. The jileasure of this 
water party, amid the deserts of Mongolia, was not, however, of 
long dui-atiou The poetry of' the thing, soon at an end, was suc- 
ceeded by some very doleful prose. We were advancing gently 
over the smooth water, vaguely listening to the measured dips of 
the sculls, when, all of a sudden, we were aroused by a clamour 
behind, of which the shrieks of the camels constituted a prominent 
share. We stopped, and, looking round, perceived that horse, 
mule, and camels were struggling in the water, without making 
any onward progress. In the general confusion we distinguished 
Samdadcliiemba flourishing his arms, as if to recal us. Uur boat- 


man was not at all disposed to accept the invitation, reluctant as 
lie was to quit the easy current he had found; but as we insisted, 
he turned back, and rowed towards the other party. 

Samdadchiemba was pui-ple with rage. As soon as we came up 
to him, he furiously assailed the boatman with invectives : " Did 
you want to drown us," bawled he, " that you gave us for a guide 
a fellow that doesn't know a yard of the way. Here are we amid 
gulfs, of which none of us know the depth or extent." The ani- 
mals, in fact, would neither advance nor recede ; beat them as you 
might, there they remained immovable. The boatman hurled 
maledictions at his partner : " If you did not know the way, what 
did you come for? The only thing to be done now is- to go back to 
the hut, and tell your cousin to get on the horse ; he'll be a better 
guide than you." 

To return for a better guide was clearly the safest coin-^e, but 
this was no easy matter ; the animals had got so frightened at find- 
ing themselves surrovmded with such a body of water, that they 
would not stir. The young guide was at his wits' end ; it was in 
vain that he beat the horse, and pulled the bridle this way and 
that; the horse strugg'ied and sjilashed up the water, and that was 
all ; not an inch would it move, one way or the other. The young 
man, no better horseman than guide, at last lost his balance and 
fell into the water ; he disappeared for a moment, to our increased 
consternation, and then rose at a little distance, just where he 
could stand and have his head above water. Samdadchiemba 
grew furious, but at last, seeing no other alternative, he quietly 
took off all his clothes as he sat on the camel, threw them into the 
boat, and slipped down the camel's side into the stream. " Take 
that man into your boat," cried he to our boatman; " I'll have 
nothing more to do with him. I'll go back and find some one who 
can guide us properly." He then made his way back through the 
water, which sometimes rose up to his nec-k, leading the animals, 
whose oonfidenie returned when they saw themselves preceded by 
the Dchiahour. 

Om' hearts were filled] with gratitude at observing the devo- 
tion and courage of this young neophyte, who, for our sakes, had 
not hesitated to plunge into the water which, at that season, was 
lutterly cold. We anxiously followed him with our eyes until we 
saw him close upon the shore. " You may now," said the boat- 
man, *' be quite at your ease,; he will find in my hut a man who 
will guide him, so as to avoid the least danger." 

We proceeded on our way, but the navigation was by no means 
so agreeable as before; the boatman could not find again the clear 
path on the waters which he was pureuing when we returned to 


aid Samdadchiemba; and hampered with aquatic plants, the vessel 
made but very slow progress. We tried to mend matters, by 
turning to the right and then to the left, but tlie difficulty only 
gi'ew gTeater; the water was so shallow that the boat, in its la- 
boured advance, turned up the mud. We were compelled ourselves 
to take the sculls, while the boatman, getting into the water and 
jmssing across his shoidders a rope, the other end of which was 
tied to the boat, tried to pull us along. We applied our united 
efforts to the task of moving the vessel, but all in vain ; it scarcely 
advanced a foot The boatman at last resumed his seat and folded 
his arms in utter despair : " Since we cannot get on by ourselves," 
said he, " we must wait here until the passage-boat comes up, and 
then follow in its course." We waited. 

The boartman was evidently altogether disconcerted ; he loudly 
reproached himself for having undertaken this laborious business ; 
while we, on our pai'ts, were angry with ourselves for having per- 
mitted a consideration of economy to deter us from proceeding with 
the ferry-boat. We should have got into the water and waded to 
the shore, but, besides the difficulty connected with the baggage, the 
undertaking was dangerous in itself. The ground was so irregular 
that, while at one moment you j^assed through water so shallow 
that it would scarcely float the boat, in the next moment you came 
to a hole, deep enough to drown you three times over. 

It was near noon when we saw three passage-boats passing us, 
which belonged to the family who enjoyed the monopoly of the 
ferry. After having, with infinite labour, extricated ourselves from 
the mud and attained the channel indicated by these boats, we 
were qidetly following their course when they stopped, evidently 
awaiting us. We recognised the person with whom we had tried 
to bargain for our passage over, and he recognised us, as we could 
easily perceive by the angry glances which he directed against us. 
"You tortoise-egg," cried he to our boatman, "what have these 
western men given you for the passage? They must have handed 
over a good bagful of sapeks to have induced you to trespass upon 
my rights ! You and I will have a little talk about the matter, by- 
and-by ; be sure of that." " Don't answer him," whispered the 
boatman to us ; then raising his voice and assuming an air of 
virtuous indignation, he cried to the ferryman : " What do you 
mean ? You don't know what you're talking about. Consult the 
dictates of reason, instead of getting into a fury about nothing. 
These Lamas have not given me a sapek ; they have cm-ed my leg 
with one of their western specifics, and do you mean to say that 
in gratitude for such a benefit I am not to carry them over the 
Paga-Gol? My conduct is perfectly right, and in conformity with 


religion." The ferryman grumbling between liis teetli, pretended to 
accept the statement thus made. 

This little altercation was succeeded by profound silence on 
both sides. While the flotilla was, peaceably advancing, pursuing 
the thread of a narrow current, just wide enough to admit the pas- 
sage of a boat, we saw galloping towards us, along the shallows, a 
horseman whose rapid progress dashed aside the water in all 
directions. As soon as he came within call he stopped short: 
" Make haste," cried he, " make haste ; lose no time, row with all 
your might! The Piime Minister of the King of the Ortous is 
yonder on the prairie with his suite, waiting the arrival of your 
boat. Row quickly." He who spoke was a Tartar Mandarin, his 
rank being indicated by the blue button which surmounted his 
hair cap. After issuing his orders he turned round, whipped his 
horse, and galloped back the same way he had come. When he 
was out of sight, the murmurs which his presence had restrained 
burst out. " Here's a day's labour marked out ! A fine thing, 
truly, to be employed by a Mongol Toudzelaktsi (Minister of State), 
who'll make us row all day, and then not give us a single sapek for 
our pains." "As to that, it need not so much matter; but the 
chances are that this Tcheou-ta-dze will break every bone in our 
bodies into the bargain." " Well, row away, it can't be helped ; 
after all, we shall have the honour of ferrying over a Toudzelaktsi." 
This little piece of insolence excited a laugh,, but the prevalent 
expression was that of fuiious invective against the Mongol 

Our boatman remained silent; at last he said to us : " This is a 
most unfortunate day for me. I shall be obliged to carry some of 
this Toudzelaktsi's suite perhaps to Tchagan-Kouren itself. I am 
by myself, I am ill, and my boat ought this evening to be engaged 
in fishing." We were truly afiiicted at this nnlucky turn of aflairs, 
feeling as we did that we were the involuntary occasion of the poor 
fisherman's misfortune. We knew very well that it was no trifling 
matter to be called into the service, in this way, of a Chinese or 
Tartar Mandarin, for whom every thing must be done at once, un 
hesitatingly and cheerfully. No matter what may be the difliculties 
in the way, that which the Mandarin desires must be done. Knowing 
tlie consequences of the meeting to our poor boatman, we determined 
to see what we could do to relieve him from the dilemma. " Brother," 
said we, "do not be uneasy; the Mandarin who awaits the passage- 
boats is a Tartar, the minister of the king of this country. We will 
endeavour to manage matters for you.. Go very slowly, stop now 
and then ; while we are in your boat no one, attendants, Mandarins, 
not even the Toudzelaktsi himself will venture to say a word tc» you." 

THIBET, A:vD china. 


We stopped short iu our course, and meanwhile the three passa ge- 
hoats reached the lanchug-place where the Mongol authorities were 
waiting lor them. Soon two Mandarins, with the blue button,- 
galloped towards us: "What are you stopping there for?" cried 
they. " Why do you not come on ?" We intei"posed : " Brother 
Mongols," said we, " request your master to content himself with 
the three boats already at the shore. This man is ill, and has been 
i-owing a long time; it would be cruel to prevent him from resting 
himself awhile." " Be it as you desire. Sirs Lamas," rejilied the 
horsemen, and they galloped back to the Toudzelaktsi. 

We then resumed om' course, but very slowly, in order to give 
time for every person to embark before we reached the shore. By- 
and-by, we saw the tln-ee ferry-boats returning, filled with Mandarins 
and tlieh attendants ; the horses were fording the river in another 
direction, under the guidance of one of the boatmen. As the party 
apjn-oached, our boatman grew more and more alraid ; he did not 
venture to raise his eyes, and he scarcely breathed. At last the 
boats were level with each other ; " Sirs Lamas," cried a voice, '• is 
peace with you?" The red button in the cap of the speaker, and 
the richness of his embroidered dress, indicated that it was the 
prime minister who addressed to us this Tartar compliment. 
"Toudzelaktsi of the Ortous," replied we, "our progress is slow, 
but it is favourable ; may peace also attend you." After a few other 
civilities, required by 'J'artar forms, we proceeded on our way. 
When we had attained a safe distance from the Mandarins, our 
boatman was perfectly relieved; we had extricated him from a most 
serious difficulty. The ferry-boats, it was probable, would be engaged 
at least three days in their gratuitous labour, for the Toudzelaktsi 
not choosing to travel across the marshes, the boats would have to 
convey him down the Yellow Pdver all tlie way to Tchagan-Kouren. 

After a long, laborious, and dangerous passage, we reached the 
other side of the waters. Samdadchiemba had arrived long before 
us, and was awaiting us on the margin of the stream. He was 
still naked, as to clothes, but then he was covered well nigh up to 
the shoulders with a thick layer of mud, which gave him a negro 
aspect. In consequence of the extreme shallowness of the water, 
the boat could not get within thirty feet of the shore. The boatmen 
who preceded us had been obliged to carry the Mandarins and their 
attendants on their shoulders to the boats. We did not choose to 
adopt the same process, but rather to make use of the animals for 
om- disembarkation. Samdadchiemba accordingly brought them 
close to the boat; M. Gabet got on the horse, M. Hue on the mule, 
and so we reached the shore, ^Yithout having occasion to employ 
any person's shoulders. 



The sun was just about to set. We would willingly have en 
camped at once, for we were exhausted with hunger and fatigue, 
but we could not possibly do so, for we had, they told us, fully two 
lis to journey before we should get out .of the mud. We loaded our 
camels, therefore, and proceeded onward, completing the miserable 
day in pain and suffering. Night had closed in before we came to 
a place where we could set up our tent ; we had no strength left for 
preparing the usual meal, so drinking some cold water, and eating 
a few handfuls of millet, we lay down, after a brief pi-ayer, and fell 
into a deep slumber. 



Glance at the Country of the Ortous-Cultivated Lands-Sterile, sandy steppes of 
the Ortuus-Form of the Tartar-Mongol Government— ^oblllty-Slavery— 
A small Lamasery-Election and Enthronization of a Living Buddha-Dis- 
cipline of the Lamaseries-Lama Studies-Violent Stom-Shelter m some 
Artificial Grottoes-Tartar concealed in a Cavern-Tartaro-Chniese Anecdote 
.-Ceremonies of Tartar Marriages— Polygamy— Divorce— Character and 
Costume of the Mongol Women. 

The sun was already yery high when we rose. On leaving the 
tent we looked round us, in order to get acquainted with this new 
countiT, wliich the darkness of the preceding evening had not 
aUowed us to examine. It appeared to us dismal and and ; hut we 
were happy, on any terms, to lose sight of bogs and swamps. We 
had left behind us the Yellow River, with its overflowmg waters. 
and entered the sandy steppes of Ortous. 

The land of Ortous is divided into seven banners ; it extends a 
hundi-ed leagues from east to west, and seventy Irom south to 
north. It is sm-rounded by the Yellow River on the west, east 
and north, and by the Gieat Wall on the south. Tins country 
has been subjected, at all periods, to the influence of the political 
revolutions, by which the Chinese empii-e has been agitated. Ihe 


Chinese and Tartar conquerors have taken possession of it in turns, 
and made it the theatre of sanguinary wars. During the tenth, 
eleventh, and twelfth centuries, it remained under the sceptre of 
the kings of Hia, who derived their origin from the Thou-Pa 
Tartars of the land of Si-Fan. The capital of their kingdom, 
called Hia-Tcheou, was situated at the foot of the Alécha moun- 
tains between the Hoang-Ho and the Great Wall, At present, 
this town is called Ning-Hia, and belongs to the province Kan-Sou. 
In 1227 the kingdom of Hia, and afterwards Ortous, were involved 
in the common desolation by the victories of Tchingghis-Khan, 
founder of the Tartar dynasty of the Youen. 

After the expulsion of the Tartar Mongols by the Ming, the 
Ortous fell under the power of the Khan of the Tchakar. When 
the latter submitted to the Mantchou conquerors in 1635, the 
Ortous followed his example, and were reunited to the empire as 
a tributary people. 

The Emperor Khang-Hi resided for some time among the 
Ortous in 1696, when he was on his expedition against the Eleuts; 
and this is what he wrote of this people in a letter to the prince, 
his son, who had remained at Peking: — " Till now, I never had at 
all an accurate idea respecting the Ortous : they are a very civilised 
nation, and have lost nothing of the old manners of the tme 
Mongols. All their princes live in perfect union among them- 
selves, and do not know the difference between mme and thiiie. 
No one ever heard of a thief amongst them, although they take 
not the slightest precaution for guarding their camels and horses. 
If by chance one of these animals goes astray, it is taken care of 
by him who finds it, till he has discovered its owner, to whom he 
restores it, without the least payment. The Ortous are extremely 
skilful in breeding cattle; most of their horses are tame and tract- 
able. The Tchakars, north of the Ortous, enjoy the reputation of 
ti'aining them with more care and success ; nevertheless, I believe 
that the Ortous excel them in tliis point. Notwithstanding these 
advantages, tliey are not at all so rich as the other Mongols." 

This quotation, which we take from the Abbé Grosier, is in 
every point conformable with what we ourselves were able to 
observe among the Ortous; so that, since the time of the Emperor 
Khang-Hi, this people has not at all changed in its manners. 

The aspect of the country through which we travelled on the 
first day of our journey seemed affected by the vicinity of the 
Chinese fishermen, who reside on the banks of the Yellow Piiver. 
We saw here and there cultivated grounds, but there can be nothing 
more wretched and bare looking than this cultivation, except, per- 
haps, the cultivator himself. These miserable agi'iculturists are a 


mixed people, half Chinese, half Tartars, but possessing neither 
the industr}' of the former, nor the frank and simple manners of 
the latter. They live in houses, or rather in dirty sheds Luilt of 
branches intertwined, nidely covered with mud and cow's excrement. 
Thirst obliging us to enter one of these habitations to ask for some 
water, w^e were able to convince ourselves that the interior did not 
in any way contradict the misery which appeared outside. Men 
and animals live together higgledy-piggledy in these abodes, which 
ai-e far inferior to those of the Mongols, where, at least, the air is 
not infected by the presence of cattle and sheej:). 

The sandy soil, which is cultivated by these poor people, beyond 
a little buck-wheat and millet, produces only hemp, but this is very 
large and abundant. Though, when we were there, the crop was 
already gathered in, we could nevertheless judge of the beauty of 
its stem fi'om what remained in the fields. The farmers of Ortous 
do not pull up the hemp whem it is ripe, as is done in Cliina ; they 
cut it off above the ground, so high as to leave a stump of about 
an inch in diameter. It was accordingly great toil for our camels 
to traverse those vast fields of hemp; the stumps, occurring at 
every step beneath their large feet, compelled them to execute all 
sorts of fantastic movements, which would have excited our mirth, 
had we not been fearful of seeing them wounded. However, that 
wliich so impeded our camels proved of gi'eat use to oiu'selves. 
When we had set up our tent, these stumps fm'nished us with a 
ready and abundant fuel. 

We soon entered once more the J^and of Grass, if, indeed, one 
can give this name to such a ban-en, arid country as that of 
the Ortous. Wherever you turn you find only a soil, bare, and 
without verdure; rocky ra\'ines, marly hills, and plains covered 
with a fine, moving sand, blown by the impetuous winds in every 
direction ; for pasture, you will only find a few thorny bushes and 
ptoor fern, dusty and fetid. At intentais only, this horrible soil 
produces some thin, shai-p grass, so firm in the earth, that the 
animals can only get it up by digging the sand with their muz- 
zles. The numerous swamps, which had been so heavy a desola- 
tion to us on the borders of the Yellow Eiver, became matter of 
regret in the country of the Ortous, so very rai'e here is water; not 
a single rivulet is there, not a spring, v/here the traveller can quench 
his thirst ; at distances only ai"e there ponds and cisterns, filled 
with a fetid, muddy water. 

The Lamas, with whom we had been in communication at Blue 
Town, had warned us of all the miseries we should have to endure 
in the country of the Ortous, especially on account of the scarcity 
of water. By their advice we had bought two wooden pails, which 



proved indeed of the greatest service to us. Wlienever we were 
lucky enough to find on our way pools or wells dug by the Tartars, 
we filled our pails, without considering too nicely the quality of 
the water, which we used with tli# greatest economy, as if it had 
been some rare and precious beverage. In spite of all these pre- 
cautions, it happened more than once that we were obliged to pass 
whole days without getting a single drop of water wherewith to 
moisten om' lips. But our personal privations were trifling com- 
pared with the pain we felt at seeing our animals wanting water 
almost every day in a countij where they had nothing to eatbeyond a 
few plants nearly dried up, and, as it were, calcined by nitre, and 
where they accordingly fell away visibly. After some days' travelling, 


the horse assumed a truly wretched appearance ; it bent down its 
head, and seemed, at every step, as though it would sink down with 
weakness; the camels painfully balanced themselves on their long 
legs, and their emaciated humps hung over their backs like empty 

The steppes of the Ortous, though so destitute of water and 
good pasture, have nco been quite abandoned by wild animals. 
You often find there grey squirrels, agile yellow goats, and beauti 
fully plumaged pheasants. Hares are in abundance, and are so 
far from shy, that they did not even take the trouble to move at 
our approach ; they merely rose on their hind legs, pricked up their 
ears, and looked at us as we passed with the utmost indifference. 
The fact is, these animals feel perfectly secure, for, with the excep 


tion of a few Mongols who follow the chase, nobody ever molests 

The hei-ds of the Tartars of the Ortoiis are not very numei-oiis, 
and are quite different from those which feed on the rich jiastmes 
of the Tchakar, or of Gechekten. The cattle and horses appeared 
very miserable ; the goats, sheep, and camels, however, looked very 
well, which is undoubtedly the consequence of their predilection 
for plants impregnated with saltpetre, whereas cattle and horses 
prefer fresh pastures, and pure and abundant water. 

The Mongols of Or tous are veiy much aflected by the wretched- 
ness of the soil upon which they live. In the course of our 
journey we saw no indication that they had become much richer 
than they were in the time of the Emperor Khang-Hi. Most of 
them live in tents made of some rags of felt, or of goat- skins framed 
on a wretched woodwork. Everything about these tents is so old 
and dii'ty, so tattered with time and storms, that you would with 
difficulty suppose they coiûd serve as abodes for human beings. 
Whenever we happened to pitch our tent near these poor habita- 
tions, we were sure to be visited by a crowd of wi-etches who pros- 
trated themselves at our feet, rolled on the earth, and gave us the 
most magnificent titles, in order to extract something from our 
charity. We were not rich, but we could not abstain from bestow- 
ing upon them a part of the modicimi which the goodness of Pro- 
vidence had bestowed upon us. We gave them sonie leaves of tea, 
a handful of oatmeal, some broiled millet, sometimes some mutton 
fat. Alas ! we woidd fain have given more, but we were obliged to 
give according to our means. The missionaries are themselves 
f)oor men, who only live upon the alms distributed among them 
every year by their brothers in Europe. 

Any one not acquainted with the laws by which the Tartars are 
ruled, would not readily understand why men condemn themselves 
to spend their lives in the wretched country of the Ortous, whilst 
Mongolia presents, in every direction, immense uninhabited plains, 
where water and pasture are to be found in abundance. Although 
the Tartars are nomads, and incessantly wandering about from 
one place to another, they are, nevertheless, not at Uberty to live in 
any other country than their own. They are bound to remain in 
their own kingdom, under the dominion of their own sovereign, 
for slavery is still maintained among the Mongol tribes with the 
utmost rigour. In order to attain an accurate idea of the degree 
of liberty these people enjoy in theii- desert regions, it is expedient 
to enter into some details as to the form of their government. 

Mongolia is divided into several sovereignties, whose chiefs ai'e 
subject to the Emperor of China, himself a Tartar, but of the 



IMantchou race: these chiefs bear titles corresponding to those of 
kings, dukes, earls, barons, &c. They govern their states according 
to tlieir own pleasure, none having any right to meddle with their 
affairs. They acknowledge as sovereign only the Emperor of 
China. Whenever there arise differences among them, they appeal 
to Peking. Instead of levelling lances at each other, as used to be 
done in the middle age of Europe, among its little sovereigns, so 
warlike and so turbulent, they always submit with respect to the 
decision of the Court of Peking, wdmtever it may be. Though the 
Mongol sovereigns think it their duty to prostrate themselves, once 
a year, before the Son of Heaven, Lord of the Earth, they never- 
theless do not concede to the Grand-Khan the right of dethroning 
the reigning families in the Tartar principalities. He may, they 
say, cashier a king for grave misconduct, but he is bound to fill up 
the vacant j^lace with one of the superseded prince's sons. The 
sovereignty belongs, they contend, to such and such a family, by a 
right which is inalienable, and of which it were a crime to dispossess 
the owner. 

A few years ago, the King of Barains^ was accused at Peking 
of having conspired a rebellion against the Emperor ; he was 
tried by the Supreme Tribunal without being heard, and con- 
demned to be " shortened at both ends," the meaning of tiie 
decree being, that his head and feet should be cut off. The king 
made enormous presents to the officials who were sent to superin- 
tend the execution of the imperial edict, and they contented them- 
selves with cutting off his braid of hair, and the soles of his boots. 
They repoited at Peking that the order had been executed, and no 
more was said about the matter. The king, however, descended 
from his throne, and was succeeded by his son. 

Although it is a sort of customary right that power shall 
always remain in the same family, it cannot be said that there is 
anything precisely fixed in this respect. There can be nothing 
more vague and indefinite than the relations between the Tartar 
sovereigns and the Grand-Khan or Emperor of China, whose om- 
nipotent will is above all laws and all customs. In practice, the 
Emperor has the right to do whatever he chooses to do, and the 
right is never disputed by any person. If doubtful or disputed 
cases arise, they are decided by force. 

In Tartary, all the families that are in any way related to the 
sovereign, form a nobility, or a patrician cast, who are proprietors 
of the whole soil. These nobles, called Taitsi, are distinguished by 

1 Barains is a principality situated north of Peking. It is one of the most 
celebrated in Mongol Tartary. 


a blue button surmounting the cap. It is from among them that 
the sovereigns of the different states select their ministers, who are 
generally three in number, and called Toutzelaktsi — that is to say, 
a man who assists or lends his aid. This rank gives them the 
right of v/earing the red button. Below the Toutzelaktsi are the 
Touchimel, subaltern officers, who are charged with the details of 
government. Lastly, a certain number of secretaries or interpre- 
ters, who must be versed in the Mongol, Mantchou, and Chinese 
languages, complete the hierarchy. 

In the country of the Khalkhas, to the north of the desert of 
Gobi, there is a district entirely occupied by Taitsi, wlio are sup- 
posed to be descendants of the Mongol dynasty, that was founded 
by Tchinggiskhau, and which occupied the imperial throne from 
1260 to 1341. After the revolutiou, which restored the national 
independence of the Chinese, these people sought refuge among 
the Khalkhas, obtained, without difficulty, a portion of their im- 
mense territory, and adopted the nomad life, which their ancestors 
had led prior to the conquest of China. These Taitsi live in the 
greatest independence, liable to no duty, paying no tiibute to any 
one, and recognising no sovereign. Their wealth consists in tents 
and cattle. The country of the Taitsi is, of all the Mongol regions, 
that wherein the patriarchal manners are found to be most accu- 
rately preserved, such as the Bible describes them in the lives of 
Abraham, Jacob, and the other pastors of Mesopotamia. 

The Tartars who do not belong to the royal family, ai-e all 
slaves, living in absolute subjection to their masters. Besides the 
rcDts they pay, they are bound to keep their master's flocks and 
herds, but they are not forbidden to breed also cattle on their own 
account. It would be a fallacy to imagine that slavery in Tartaiy is 
oppressive and cruel, as amongst some nations; the noble families 
scarcely differ from the slave families. In examining the rela- 
tions between them, it would be difficult to distinguish the master 
from the slave : they live both alike in tents, and both alike occupy 
their lives in pasturing their flocks. You will never find among 
tliem luxury and opulence insolently staring in the face of poverty. 
When the slave enters his master's tent, the latter never fails to offer 
him tea and milk ; they smoke together, and exchange their pipes. 
Around the tents the young slaves and the young noblemen romp 
and wrestle together without distinction; the stronger throws the 
weaker; that is all. You often find famOies of slaves becoming 
proprietors of numerous flocks, and spending theii- days in abund- 
ance. We met many who were richer than their masters, a cir- 
cumstance giving no umbrage to the latter. What a difference 
between this slavery and that of Eome, for instance, where the 


Eoman citizen, when he made up the inventory of his house, classed 
his slaves as furniture. With these haughty and cruel masters 
the slave did not merit even the name of man ; he was called, 
without ceremony, a domestic thing, res domesiica. Slavery, with 
the Mongol Tartars, is even less oj^pressive, less insulting to 
humanity, than the bondage of the middle ages. The Mongol 
masters never give to their slaves those humiliating nicknames 
which were formerly used to designate serfs; they call them 
brothers; never villeins, never scum, never ^e«^ taillaUe et corvéable 
à merci. 

The Tartar nobles have the light of life and death over their 
slaves. They may administer justice themselves upon their bonds- 
men, even to sentence of death ; but this privilege is never 
exercised in an arbitrary way. In case a slave has been put to 
death, a superior tribunal investigates the action of the master, 
and if it be found that he has abused his right, the innocent blood 
is revenged. The Lamas who belong to slave families become free, 
in some degi-ee, as soon as they enter the sacerdotal tribe ; they are 
liable neither to rents nor enforced labour ; they are at liberty to 
quit their country, and ramble through the world at their pleasure, 
without anybody having the right to stay them. 

Although the relations between master and slave are generally 
full of humanity and good-will, there are nevertheless Tartar 
sovereigns who abuse their right, and oppress their people, and 
exact exorbitant tributes. We know one who makes use of a 
system of oppression that is truly revolting. He selects from 
among his flocks the oldest and sickliest cattle, camels, sheep and 
goats, and gives them in charge to the rich slaves in his states, 
who cannot, of course, object to pasture the cattle of their sove- 
reign master; but are fain to consider it rather an honom*. After 
a few years, the king applies for his cattle, by this time all dead or 
dying of illness or old age, and selects from the flocks of his slaves 
the youngest and strongest; often even, not content with this, he 
demands double or treble the number. " Nothing," says he, " is 
more just ; for in two or three years my beasts must have multi- 
plied, and therefore a great number of lambs, colts, calves, and 
young camels belong to me." 

Slavery, however mitigated and softened, can never be in har- 
mony with the dignity of man. It has been abolished in Europe, 
and we hope will be abolished one day among the Mongol people. 
But this great revolution will, as everywhere else, be operated by 
the influence of Christianity. It will not be theory-mongers who 
will liberate these nomad people. The work will be tlie work of 
the priests of Jesus Christ, of the preachers of the Holy Gospel, 


that Divine Charter, wherein are set forth the true rights of man. 
So soon as the missionaries shall have taught the Mongols to say, 
" Our Father who art in Heaven," slavery will fall in Tariary, and 
the tree of liberty will grow beside the cross. 

After some clays' marcli across the sands of tbe Ortous, we 
noticed on our way a small Lamasery, richly built in a ])icturesque 
and wild situation. We passed on without stopping. We had 
advanced a gun-shot from the place, when we heard behind us the 
galloping of a horse. On looking round we saw a Lama following 
us at full speed. " Brothers," he said, " you have passed oiu- 
Soumé (Lamasery) without stopping. Are you in such haste that 
you cannot repose fora day, and oliëryour adorations to our saint?" 
" Yes, we are rather in a hurry ; our journey is not of a few days; 
we are going to the West." " I knew very well by your physiog- 
nomies that you were not Mongols, and that you came from the 
West; but as you are going so far, you had better prostrate your- 
selves before our saint; that will bring you good luck." "We 
never prostrate ourselves before men ; the true creed of the West 
forbids that." " Our saint is not a mere man ; you do not imagine, 
perhaps, that in oiu' little Lamasery we have the happiness to 
possess a Chaberon, a living Buddha. It is two years since he 
deigned to descend from the holy mountains of Thibet; he is now 
seven years old. In one of his former lives he was Grand Lama of 
a splendid Lamasery in tlds vale, which was destroyed, according 
to the prayer-books, in the time of the wars of Tching-Kis. The 
saint having reappeared a few years since, we have constructed in 
haste a small Lamaseiy. Come, brothers, our saint will hold his 
right hand over youi- heads, and luck will accompany yoiu' steps!" 
" The men who know the Holy Doctrine of the West, do not 
believe in all these transmigrations of the Chaberons. We adore 
only the Creator of Heaven and earth ; his name is Jehovah. 
We believe that the child you have made superior of yoiu' Lamasery 
is destitute of all power. Men have nothing to hope or to fear from 
him." When the Lama heard these words, which he certainly 
never expected, he was quite stupified. By degrees his face became 
animated, and at last exhibited indignation and anger. He looked 
at us several times, then, pulling the bridle of his horse, he tiu'ned 
short round and left us hastily, muttering between his teeth some 
words which we could not exactly hear, but which we were aware 
did not constitute a benediction. 

The Tartars believe with firm and absolute faith in all these 
various transmigrations. They would never allow themselves to 
entertain the slightest doubt as to the authenticity of their Chaberons. 
These living Buddhas are in large numbers, and are always placed 


at the head of the most important Lamaseries. Sometimes they 
modestly hegin their career in a small temj)le, and have only a few- 
disciples ; but very soon their reputation increases around, and the 
small Lamasery becomes a place of pilgrimage and devotion. The 
neighbouring Lamas, speculating upon the rising fashion, surround 
it with their cells ; the Lamasery acquires development from year to 
year, and becomes at last famous in the land. 

The election and enthronization of the living Buddhas are con- 
ducted in so singular a manner as to be well worth relating. When 
a Grand Lama has gone, that is to say, is dead, the circumstance is 
no occasion of mourning in the Lamasery. There are no tears, no 
lamentations, for everybody knows the Chaberon will very soon 
reappear. This apparent death is but the beginning of a new- 
existence, as it were, one ring more added to the unlimited, unin- 
terrupted chain of successive lives — a regular palingenesis. While 
the saint is in a state of chrysalis, his disciples are in the greatest 
anxiety ; for it is their most important affair to discover the place 
where their master will resume life. A rainbow appearing in the 
air is considered a signal sent to them by their old Great Lama to 
aid them in their researcli. Everyone thereupon says his prayers, 
and while the Lamasery which has lost its Buddha redoubles its 
fastings and prayers, a troop of elect proceeds to consult the 
Tchurtchun or augur, famous for the knowledge of things hidden 
from the common herd. He is informed that on such a day of such 
a moon the rainbow of the Chaberon has manifested itself on the 
sky; it made its appearance in such a place; it was more or less 
luminous, and it was visible so long; then it disappeared amid 
such and such circumstances. When the Tchurtchun has received 
all tbe necessary indications, he recites some prayers, opens his 
books of divination, and pronounces at last his oracle, while the 
Tartars who have come to consult him, listen, kneeling and full of 
unction. " Your Great Lama," says he, " has reappeared in Thibet, 
at such a distance from your Lamasery. You will find him in such 
a family." When these poor Mongols have heard this oracle, they 
return full of joy to announce the glad tidings to their Lamasery. 

It often happens that tbe disciples of the defunct have no occa- 
sion to trouble themselves at all in order to discover the new 
birth-place of their Great Lama. He himself takes the trouble 
to initiate them into the secret of his transformation. As soon 
as he has effected bis metamorphosis in Thibet, he reveals himself 
at an age when common children cannot yet articulate a single 
word. " It is I," he says with the accent of authority ; " it is I who 
am the Great Lama, the living Buddha of such a temple ; conduct 
me to my ancient Lamasery. I am its immortal superior." The 


wonderful baby having thus spoken, it is speedily communicated 
to the Lamas of the Soumé indicated, that their Chaberon is born 
in such a place, and they are summoned to attend and invite him 

In whatever manner the Tartars discover the residence of tlieir 
Great Lama, whether by the appearance of the rainbow, or by the 
spontaneous revelation of the Chaberon himself, they are always 
full of intense joy on the occasion. Soon all is movement in the 
tents, and the thousand preparations for a long joiu-ney are made 
with enthusiasm, for it is almost always in Thibet that they have to 
seek their living Buddha, who seldom fails to play them the trick of 
transmigrating in some remote and almost inaccessible country. 
Everyone contributes his share to the organisation of the holy 
journey. If the king of the country does not place himself at the 
head of the caravan, he sends either his own son or one of the most 
illustrious members of the royal family. The great ^Mandarins, or 
ministers of the king, consider it their duty and an honour to join 
the party. When everything is at last prepared, an auspicious day 
is chosen, and the caravan starts. 

Sometimes these poor Mongols, after having endured incredible 
fatigues in horrible deserts, fall into the bands of the brigands of 
the Blue Sea, who strip them from head to foot. If they do not 
die of hunger and cold in those dreadful solitudes — if they succeed 
in returning to the place whence they came — they commence the 
preparations for a new journey. There is nothing capable of dis- 
couraging them. At last, when, by dint of energy aiid perse- 
verance, they bave contrived to reach the eternal sanctuary, they 
prosti'ate themselves before the child wbo has been indicated to 
them. The young Chaberon, however, is not saluted and pro 
claimed Great Lama without a previous examination. There is 
held a solemn sitting, at which the new living Buddha is examined 
publicly, with a scrupulous attention. He is asked the name of the 
Lamaseiy of which he assumes to be the Great Lama; at what 
distance it is ; what is the number of the Lamas residing in it. He 
is inteiTOgated respecting the habits and customs of the defunct 
Great Lama, and the principal circumstances attending his death. 
After all these questions, there are placed before him different 
prayer-books, ai tides of furniture, teapots, cups, &c., and amongst 
all these things he has to point out those which belonged to his 
former life. 

Generally this child, at most but five or six years old, comes 
forth victorious out of all these trials. He answers accurately all 
the questions that are put to him, and makes without any embar 
rassment the inventory of his goods. " Here," he says, " are the 


prayer-books I used ; there is the japanned porringer out of which I 
drank my tea." And so on. 

No doubt the Mongols are often dupes of the fraud of those who 
have an interest in making a Great Lama out of this puppet. 
Yet we believe that often all this proceeds on both sides with 
honesty and good faith. .From the information we obtained from 
persons worthy of the greatest credit, it appears certain that all that 
is said of the Chaberons must not be ranged amongst illusion and 
deception. A jDurely human philosophy will, undoubtedly, reject 
such things, or put them, without hesitating, down to the account 
of Lama imposture. We Catholic missionaries believe that the 
great liar who once deceived our first parents in the earthly 
Paradise still pursues his system of falsehood in the world. He 
who had the power to hold up in the air Simon Magus may well at 
this day speak to mankind by the mouth of an infant, in order to 
maintain the faith of his adorers. 

When the titles of theli\dng Buddha have been confirmed, he is 
conducted in triumph to the Lamasery, of which he is to be the 
Grand Lama. Ui:>on the road he takes, all is excitement, all is 
movement. The Tartars assemble in large crowds to prostrate 
themselves on his way, and to present to him their offerings. As 
soon as he is arrived at his Lamasery, he is placed upon the altar; 
and then, kings, princes, mandarins. Lamas, Tartars, from the 
richest to the poorest, come and bend the head before this child, 
which has been brought from the depths of Thibet, at enormous 
expense, and whose demoniac possessions excite eveiy body's 
respect, admiration, and enthusiasm. 

There is no Tartar kingdom which does not possess, in one of 
its Lamaseries of the first class, a living Buddha. Besides this 
superior, there is always another Grand Lama, who is selected from 
the members of the royal family. The Thibetian Lama resides in 
the Lamasery, like a living idol, receiving every day the adorations 
of the devout, upon whom in return he bestows his blessing. Every- 
thing which relates to prayers and liturgical ceremonies, is placed 
under his immediate superintendence. The Mongol Grand Lama 
is charged with the administration, good order, and executive of the 
Lamasery ; he governs whilst his colleague is content to reign. The 
famous maxim. Le roi règne et tie gouverne pas, is not, therefore, the 
grand discovery in politics that some people imagine. Peoj^le pre- 
tend to invent a new system, and merely plunder, without saying a 
word about it, the old constitution of the Tartar Lamaseries. 

Below these two sovereigns, are several subaltern officers, who 
direct tlie details of the administration, the revenues, the sales, the 
purchases, and the discipline. The scribes keep the registers, and 


draw lip the regulations and orders which the governor Lama pro- 
mulgates for the good keeping and order of the Lamaseiy. These 
scrihes are generally well versed in the Mongol, Thihetian, and 
sometimes in the Chinese and Mantchou languages. Before they 
are admitted to this employment, they are obliged to undergo a veiy 
rigorous examination, in presence of all the Lamas and of the 
principal civil authorities of the country. 

After this staff of superiors and officers, the inhabitants of the 
Lamasery are divided in Lama-masters and Lama-disciples or 
Chabis; each Lama has under his direction one or more Chabis, 
who live in his small house, and execute all the details of the 
household. If the master j)ossesses cattle, they take charge of them, 
milk the cows, and prepare the butter and cream. In return for 
these seiwices, the master directs his disciples in the study of the 
prayers, and initiates them into the liturg}^ Every morning the 
Chabi must be up before his master ; his first task is to sweep the 
chamber, to light a fire and to make the tea; after that he takes 
his prayer-book, presents it respectfully to his master, and prostrates 
himself thrice before him, without saying a single word. This sign 
of res^Dect is equivalent to a request that the lesson he has to learn 
in th'e course of the day may be marked. The master opens the 
book, and reads some pages, accoi*ding to the capacity of his 
scholar, who then makes three more prostrations in sign of thanks, 
and returns to his afiah's. 

The Chabi studies his prayer-book, when he is disposed to do so, 
there being no fixed period for that ; he may spend his time, sleeping 
or romping with the other young pupils, without the slightest 
interference on the part of his master. When the hour for retiring 
to bed has anived, he recites the lesson assigned him in the morning, 
in a monotonous manner; if, the recitation is good, he is looked 
upon as having done his duty, the silence of Ms master being the 
only praise he is entitled to obtain ; if, on the contraiy, he is not 
able to give a good account of his lesson, the severest punishment 
makes him sensible of his fault. It often happens, that under such 
circumstances, the master, laying aside his usual gravity, rushes 
upon his scholar, andoverwhelms him at once with blows and temble 
maledictions. Some of the pupils, who are over maltreated, run 
away and seek adventures far from their Lamasery ; but in general 
they patiently submit to the punishment intiicted on them, even 
that of passing the night in the open air, without any clothes and 
in full winter. We often had opportunities of talking with Chabis, 
and when we asked them whether there was no means of learning 
the prayei's without being beaten, they ingenuously and with an 
accent manifesting entire conviction, replied, that it was impossible. 


" The prayers one knows best," they said, " are always those for 
which one has got most blows. The Lamas who cannot recite 
prayers, or cure maladies, or tell fortunes, or predict the future, are 
those who have not been beaten well by their masters." 

Besides these studies, which are conducted at home, and under 
the immediate superintendence of the master, the Chabis may 
attend, in the Lamasery, public lectures, wherein the books which 
relate to religion and to medicine are expounded. But these com- 
mentaries are mostly vague, unsatisfactory, and quite inadequate to 
form learned Lamas; there are few of them who can give an exact 
account of the books they study; to justify their omission in this 
respect, they never fail to allege the profundity of the doctrine. 
As to the great majority of the Lamas, they think it more convenient 
and expeditious to recite the prayers in a merely mechanical way, 
without giving themselves any trouble about the ideas they contain. 
When we come to speak of tlie Lamaseries of Thibet, where the 
instruction is more complete than in those of Tartary, we shall 
enter into some details upon Lama studies. 

The Thibetian books alone being reputed canonical, and ad 
mitted as such by the Buddhist Reformation, the Mongol Lamas 
pass their Jives in studying a foreign idiom, without ti'oubhng them- 
selves at all about their own language. There are many of them 
well versed in the Thibetian literature, who do not even know their 
own Mongol alphabet. There are indeed a few Lamaseries where 
the study of the Tartarian idiom receives some slight attention, and 
where they sometimes lecite Mongol prayers, but these are always 
a translation of Thibetian books. A Lama who can read Thibetian 
and Mongol is reputed quite a savant ; he is thought a being raised 
above mankind, if he has some knowledge of Chinese and Mant- 
cliou literature. 

As we advan<îed in the Ortous, the country seemed more and 
more desert and dismal. To make matters still worse, a terrible 
storm, solemnly closing in the autumn season, brought ujwn us the 
cold of winter. 

One day, we were proceeding with difficulty through the arid 
sandy desert ; the i>erspiration ran down our foreheads, for the heat 
was stifling ; we felt overpowered by the closeness of the atmosphere, 
and our camels, with outstretched necks and mouths half open, vainly 
sought in the air a breath of cooling freslmcss. Towards noon, 
dark clouds began to gather in the horizon ; fearful of being sur. 
prised by the storm, we determined to pitch our tent. But 
where? We looked round on all sides; we ascended to the 
tops of the hillocks and anxiously sought with our eyes for some 
Tartar habitation, which might provide us with iuel, but in vain ; 


we had before us on all sides nothing but a moiunful solitude. 
From time to time, we saw the foxes rething to their holes, and 
herds of yellow goats running to take repose in the defiles of the 
mountains. Meantime, the clouds continued to rise and the wind 
began to blow violently. In the iiTegularity of its gusts it seemed 
now to bring us the tempest, now to drive it from us. While we 
were thus suspended between hope and fear, loud claps of thunder, 
and repeated flashes of lightning, that seemed to enkindle the sky, 
gave us notice that we had no other resource than to j)lace ourselves 
entirely in the hands of Providence. The icy north wind blowing 
fiercely, we directed our steps to a defile, which opened near us ; but 
before we had time to reach it the storm exploded. At first, rain fell 
in torrents, then hail, and at last snow half melted. In an instant 
we were wet through to the skin, and felt the cold seizing upon our 
limbs. We immediately alighted, hoping that walking would warm 
us a little, but we had hardly advanced ten steps amidst the deluge 
of sand, when our legs sank as in mortar. When we found it im 
possible to go any further we sought shelter by the side of oiu* 
camels, and crouched down, pressing our arms closely against our 
sides, in order to attain, if possible, a little warmth. 

While the storm continued to hurl against us its fury, we awaited 
with resignation the fate which Providence destined for us. It was 
impossible to pitch the tent; it was beyond human power to spread 
cloth saturated with lain, and half frozen by the north wind. Be- 
sides it would have been difficult to find a site for it, since the water 
streamed in eveiy direction. Amid cnrumstances so dreadful, we 
looked at each other in sadness and in silence ; we felt the natural 
warmth of om* body diminishing every minute, and our blood 
beginning to freeze. We offered, therefore, the sacrifice of our lives 
to God, for we were -eonvinoed that we should die of cold during the 

One of us, however, •collecting all his strength and alibis energy, 
climbed up an eminence, which commanded a view of the con- 
tiguous defile, and discovered a footpath, leading by a thousand 
sinuosities into the depths of the immense ravine ; he pin-sued its 
direction, and after a few steps in the hollow, perceived in the sides 
of the mountain large openings, like doors. At this sight recoveriug 
at once his courage and his strength, he ascended once more the. 
eminence in order to communicate the good news to his companions. 
" We are saved," he cried; " thero are caves in this defile ; let us 
hasten to take refuge in them." These words immediately aroused 
the little cai'avan ; we left our animals upon the hill, and speedily 
descended into the ravine. A footpath led to the opening; we 
advanced our heads, and discovered in the interior of the mountain, 




not simple caves foiTnecl by nature, but fine, spacious apartments 
excavated by the band of man. Our first exclamation was an ex- 
pression of thankfulness for the goodness of Providence. We 
selected the cleanest and largest of these caverns, and in an instant 
passed from the utmost misery to the height of felicity. It was like 
a sudden and unhoped-for transition from death to life. 

On viewing these subterranean dwellings, constructed wdth so 
much elegance and solidity, we were of opinion that some Chinese 
families had r^pair^d to this coimtry to cultivate the soil ; but that, 
repelled by its barrenness, they had given up their enterprise. 
Traces of cultivation, which we perceived here and there, confirmed 
car conjecture. When the Chinese establish themselves anywhere 
in Tartfiry, if they find mountains, the earth of which is hard and 
solid, they excavate caverns in their sides. These habitations ai"e 
cheaper than houses, and less exposed to the irregularity of the 
seasons. They are generally very well laid out ; on ea<}h side of 
the door there are windows, giving sufficient light to tl>e interior; 
the walls, the ceiling, the furnaces, the kang, everything inside is 
so coated with plaster, so firm and shining, that it has the appear- 
ance of stucco. These caves have the advantage of being very 


warm in winter and veiy cool in summer; the want of sufficient 
air, however, sometimes makes a sojourn in them dangerous to the 
health. Those dweUings were no novelty to us, for thej aboimd in 
om* mission of Si-Wan. However, we had never seen any so well 
constructed as these of the Ortous. 

We took possession of one of those subterranean abodes, and 
commenced proceedings by making a large fire in the furnaces, 
with plentiful bundles of hemp-stems, which we found in one of the 
caves. Never, on our journey, had we at our disposal such ex- 
cellent fuel. Our clothes dried very soon, and we \vere so happy 
at being in this fine hotel of Providence, that we spent the gi-eater 
part of the night enjoying the delightful sensation of warmth, while 
Samdadchiemba was never tired of broiling little cakes in mutton 
fat. It was altogether quite a festival with us, and our flour felt 
somewhat the efiects of it. 

The animals were not less happy than we. We found for them 
stables out in the mountain, and, which was better still, excellent 
forage. One cave was filled with millet stems and oat-straw. But 
for this horrible storm, which had nearly killed us, our animals 
would never have got so grand a treat. After having for a long 
time enjoyed the poetry of our miraculous position, we yielded to 
the necessity of taking repose, and laid down upon a well-warmed 
kang, which made us forget the terrible cold we had endured 
dui'ing the tempest. 

Next morning, while Samdadchiemba was using the rest of the 
hemp stems, and diying our baggage, we went out for a nearer in- 
spection of these numerous subterrenes. We had scarcely gone ten 
steps, when we beheld, to our great astonishment, whirls of smoke is- 
suing from the door and windows of a cave adjoining our own. As 
we fancied we were alone in the desert, the sight of this smoke excited 
a surprise, mingled with fear. We directed our steps to the opening 
of the cavern, and, on reaching the threshold of the door, perceived 
within a large fire of hemp stems, whose undulating flame reached 
the ceiling, so that the place looked like an oven. On further 
investigation we obsei-ved a human form moving amidst the thick 
smoke; we soon heard the Tartar salute, Mendou! uttered by a 
sonorous voice; " Come and sit beside this fire." We did not like to 
advance. This cave of Cacus, that loud voice, presented to our 
minds something phantastic. Finding that we remained silent and 
motionless, the inhabitant of this sort of vent-hole of Erebus, 
rose and came to the threshold. He was neither a devil nor a ghost, 
but simply a Mongol Tartar, who, the night before, having been 
suqn-ised by the storm, had fled to this cave, where he had passed 
the night. After a few words about the rain, wind and hail, we 


invited him to breakfast with us, and brought him to our dwelling. 
While Samdadchiemba, aided by our guest, made the tea, we went 
out again to pursue our researches. 

We walked amid these deserted and silent abodes with a cu- 
riosity not free from terror. All were constructed upon much the 
same model, and still preserved their pristine integrity. Chinese 
characters engraved on the walls, and pieces of porcelain vases, con- 
firmed our impression that these caves had been inhabited not long 
since by Chinese. Some old woman's shoes, which we discovered 
in a corner, removed any remaining doubt. We could not shake 
off a feeling of sadness and melancholy, when we thought of those 
numerous families, who, after having lived a long time in the en- 
trails of this large mountain, had gone elsewhere to seek a more 
hospitable soil. As we entered the caves, we alarmed flocks of 
sparrows, which had not yet left these former dwellings of man, but 
had, on the contrary, boldly taken possession of these gi"and nests. 
The millet and oats strewn around profusely, induced them to 
remain. " Undoubtedly," said we, " they too will fly away when 
they no longer find here any more grains, when they find that the 
old inhabitants of these caves return no more, and they will seek 
hospitality under the roofs of houses." 

The sparrow is a regular cosmopolite ; we have found it wher- 
ever we have found man; ever with the same vivid, petulant, 
quarrelsome character ; ever with the same sharp, angry cry. It is, 
however, to be remarked that in Tartary, China, and Thibet it is, 
perhaps, more insolent than in Europe ; because there, nobody 
makes war upon it, and its nest and brood are piously respected. 
You see it boldly enter the house, live tliere on familiar terms, 
and peck up at its leisure the remnants of man's food. The 
Chinese call it Kio-nio-eul, (bird of the family). 

After having inspected about thirty of these caves, which did 
not present anything remarkable, we returned to our own. At 
breakfast, the conversation naturally turned upon the Chinese who 
had excavated these dwellings. We asked the Tartar if he had seen 
them. " What ! " said he, " have I seen the Kitats who inhabited 
this defile? Why, I knew all of them; it is not more than two 
years since they left the country. For that matter," he added, 
" they had no right to remain here ; as they were rascals, it 
was quite proper to turn them out." " Kascals, say you ? why, 
what mischief could they do in this wretched ravine? " " Oh, the 
Kitats are sly, cheating fellows. At first, they seemed very good; 
but that did not last long. It is more than twenty years ago that 
a few of their families sought our hospitality : as they were j)Oor, 
they got permission to cultivate some land in the vicinity, on 


condition, that every year after harvest they should furnish some 
oatmeal to the Taitsi of the country. By degrees, other famihes 
arrived, who also excavated caverns wherein to dwell ; and soon 
this defile was full of them. In the beginning, these Kitats showed 
a gentle, quiet character; we lived together like brothers. Tell me, 
Sirs Lamas, is it not well to live together like brothers ? Are not all 
men brothers ? " " Yes, that is true ; you speak the words of justice ; 
but why did these Kitats go hence?" "Peace did not last long; 
they soon showed themselves wicked and false. Instead of being 
content with w4iat had been given them, they extended their cul- 
tivation at their pleasure, and took possession of a large tenitory, 
without asking anyone's leave. When they were rich they woidd 
not pay the oatmeal they had agreed to pay as tribute. Every year, 
when we claimed the rent, we were received with insults and male- 
dictions. But the worst thing was, that these rascally Kitats 
turned thieves, and took possession of all the goats and sheep that 
lost their way in the sinuosities of the lavine. At last, a Taitsi of 
great courage and capacity, called together the Mongols of the 
neighbou]-hood, and said, — ' The Kitats take away our land, they 
steal our beasts, and curse us ; as they do not act or speak as bro- 
thers, we must expel them.' Everybody was pleased with these 
words of the old Taitsi. After a deliberation, it was decided that 
the principal men of the country shoidd go to the king, and sup- 
plicate an order condemning the Kitats to be expelled. I was one of 
the deputation. The king reproached us for ha\dng permitted 
foreigners to cultivate our lands; we prostrated ourselves before 
him, observing profound silence. However, the king, who always 
acts with justice, had the order written, and sealed with his red seal. 
The ordonnance said, that the king would not permit the Kitats to 
live any longer in the country; and that they must leave it before 
the first day of the eighth moon. Three Taitsi rode off to present 
the ordonnance to the Kitats. They made no answer to the three 
deputies, but said amongst themselves, ' The king desires us to go; 
very well.' 

*' Afterwards we learned that they had assembled and had resolved 
to disobey the orders of the king and to remain in the country, in 
spite of him. The first day of the eighth moon arrived, and they 
still occupied calmly their habitations, without making any pre- 
paration for departure. In the morning, befoi-e daybreak, all the 
Tartars mounted their horses, armed themselves with their lances, 
and di'ove their flocks and herds upon the cultivated lands of the 
Kitats, on which the crop was still standing : when the sun rose, 
nothing of that crop was left. All had been devoured by the 
animals, or trodden down. The Kitats yelled and cursed us, 


but the thing was done. Seeing that their position was despeiate, 
they collected, the same day, their furniture and agricultural im- 
plements, and went off to settle in the eastern parts of the Ortous, 
at some distance from the Yellow River, near the Paga-Gol. As you 
came through Tchagan-Kouren, you must have met on your route, 
west of the Paga-Gol, Kitats cultivating some pieces of land ; well, it 
was they who inhabited this defile, and excavated all these caves." 

Having finished his narrative, the Tartar went out for a 
moment and brought back a small packet, which he had left in 
the cavern, where he had passed the night. " Sirs Lamas," 
he said on his return, " I must depart ; but will you not come 
and repose for a few days in my dwelling? My tent is not far 
hence; it is behind that sandy mountain which you perceive 
there towards the north. It is at the utmost not more than thirty 
lis off." " We are much obliged to you," answered we. " The hos- 
l)itality of the Mongols of Ortous is known everywhere, but we have 
a long journey before us ; we cannot stop on our way." " What 
are a few days, sooner or later, in a long journey? Your beasts 
cannot always be on their feet; they need a little rest. You your- 
selves have had much to endure from the weather of yesterday. 
Come with me; all will then be well. In four days we shall have 
a festival. My eldest son is going to establish a family. Come to 
the nuptials of my son ; your presence will bring him good fortune." 
The Tartar, seeing us inflexible, mounted his horse, and after 
having ascended the pathway which led to the defile, disappeared 
across the heath and sand of the desert. 

Under other circumstances, we should have accepted with plea- 
sure the offer thus made; but we desired to make the shortest 
possible stay amongst the Ortous. We were anxious to leave behind 
us that miserable country, where our animals were wasting away 
daily, and where we had ourselves met with such fatigue and 
misery. Besides, a Mongol wedding was no new thing to us. 
Since we had entered Tartary, we had witnessed more than once, 
ceremonies of that kind. 

The Mongols marry very young, and always under the influence 
of the absolute authority of the parents. This affair, so grave and 
important, is initiated, discussed, and concluded, without the two 
persons most interested in it, taking the least part in it. Whatever 
promises of marriage may take place in youth, or at more advanced 
age, it is the parents who always settle the contract, without even 
speaking to their children about it. The two future consorts do 
not know, perhaps never saw each other. It is only when they are 
married that they have the opportunity to inquire whether there is 
sympathy between their characters or not. 


The daughter never brings any marriage portion. On tne con- 
trary, the young man has to make presents to the family of his 
bride : and the value of these presents is seldom left to the generosity 
of the husband's parents. Everything is arranged beforehand and 
set forth in a public document, with the minutest details. In fact, 
the matter is less a marriage present than the price of an object, 
sold by one party and bought by the other. The thing is indeed 
very clearly expressed in then* language ; they say, " I have bought 
for my son the daughter of so and so." " We have sold our daughter 
to such and such a family." The marriage contract is thus simply a 
contract of sale. There are mediators, who bargain and haggle, up 
and down, till at last they come to an agreement. When it is 
settled how many horses, oxen, sheep, pieces of linen, pounds of 
butter, what quantity of brandy and wheat-flour shall be given to 
the family of the bi'ide, the contract is at length drawn up before 
witnesses, and the daughter becomes the property of the purchaser. 
She remains, however, with her family till the time of the nuptial 

When the mamage has been concluded between the mediators, 
the father of the bridegi-oom, accompanied by his nearest relations, 
can-ies the news to the family of the bride. On entering, they 
prostrate themselves before the little domestic altai", and offer to the 
idol of Buddha a boiled sheep's head, milk, and a sash of white silk. 
Then they partake of a repast provided by the parents of the bride- 
groom. During the repast, all the relations of the bride receive a 
piece of money, which they deposit in a vase filled with wine made 
of fermented milk. The father of the bride drinks the ^vine, and 
keeps the money. This ceremony is called Tahil-Tébihou, " striking 
the bargain." 

The day indicated by the Lamas as auspicious for the marriage 
having arrived, the bridegroom sends early in the moiTung a depu- 
tation to fetch the girl who has been betrothed to him, or rather 
whom he has bought. When the envoys draw near, the relations 
and friends of the bride place fnemselves in a circle before the door, 
as if to oppose the departine of the bride, and then begins a feigned 
fight, which of course terminates with the bride being carried ofi*. 
She is placed on a horse, and having been tlmce led round her 
paternal house, she is then taken at full gallop to the tent which 
has been prepared for the purpose, near the dwelhng of her father- 
in-law. Meantime, all the Tartars of the neighbourhood, the re- 
lations and friends of both families, repair to the wedding- least, and 
offer then- presents to the new married pair. The extent of these 
presents, which consist of beasts and eatables, is left to the generosity 
of the guests. They are destined for the father of the bridegroom 



and often fully indemnify him for his expenses in the purchase of 
tlie bride. As the offered animals come up they are taken into folds 
ready constructed for them. At the weddings of rich Tartars, these 
large folds receive great herds of oxen, horses and sheep. Gene- 
rally tlie guests are generous enough, for they know that they will 
be paid in return, upon a similar occasion. 

When the bride has finished dressing, she is introduced to her 
father in-law ; and while the assembled Lamas recite the prayers 
prescribed by the ritual, she first prostrates herself before the image 
of Buddha, then before the hearth, and lastly before the father, 
mother, and other near relatives of tlie bridegroom, who, on his 
p)art, performs the same ceremonies towards the family of his bride, 
assembled in an adjacent tent. Then comes the wedding-feast, 
which sometimes continues for seven or eight days. An ex- 
cessive profusion of fat meat, infinite tobacco, and large jars of 
brandy, constitute the splendour and magnificence of these repasts. 
Sometimes music is added to the entertainment, and they invite 
Toolholos, or Tartar singers, to give more solemnity to the festival. 

The plurality of wives is admitted in Tartary, beiug opposed 
neitlier to the laws, nor to the religion, nor to the manners of the 
country. The first wife is always the mistress of the household, 
and the most respected in the family. The other wives bear the 
name of little spouses (paga erne), and owe obedience and respect 
to the first. 

Polygamy, abolished by the Gospel, and contrary in itself to the 
happiness and concord of families, may, perhaps, be regarded as a 
blessing to the Tartars. Considering the present state of society 
with them, it is, as it were, a barrier opposed to libertinism and cor- 
ruption of morals. Celibacy being imposed on the Lamas, and the 
class of those who shave the head and live in lamaseries being so 
numerous, it is easy to conceive what disorders woidd arise from this 
multiplication of young women without support and abandoned to 
themselves, if girls could not be placed in families in the quality of 
second wives. 

Divorce is very frequent among the Tartars. It takes place 
without any participation of the civil or ecclesiastical authorities. 
The husband, who repudiates his wife, has not even occasion for a 
pretext to justify his conduct. He sends her back, without any 
formality, to her parents, and contents himself with a message that 
he does not require her any longer. This proceeding is in accord- 
ance with Tartar manners, and does not offend any one. The 
husband thinks himself entitled to the privilege, in consideration of 
the oxen, sheep and horses he was obliged to give as nuptial pre- 
sents. The parents of the repudiated wife do not complain at 


having their daughter back; she resumes her place in the family 
till another husband presents himself, in which case, they even 
rejoice over the profit they make by thus selling the same merchan- 
dize twice over. 

In Tartary, the women lead an independent life enough. They 
are far from being oppressed and kept in servitude, as with other 
Asiatic nations. They may come and go at their pleasure, ride out 
Oil horseback, and pay each other visits from tent to tent. Instead 
of the soft, languishing physiognomy of the Cliinese women, the 
Tartar woman presents in her beaiiiig and manners a power and 
force well in accordance with her active life and nomad habits, and 
her attire augments the effect of her masculine, haughty mien. 

Large leather boots, and a long green or violet robe fastened 
round the waist by a black or blue girdle, constitutes her dress, 
except that sometimes she wears over the great robe a small coat, 
resembling in form our waistcoats, but very large, and coming 
down to the hips. The hair of the Tartar women is divided in t\vo 
tresses, tied up in tafietas, and hanging down upon the bosom ; 
their luxury consists in ornamenting the girdle and hair with 
spangles of gold and silver, pearls, coral, and a thousand other 
toys, the form and quality of which it would be difficult for us to 
define, as we had neither opportunity, nor taste, nor patience to pay 
serious attention to these futilities. 

Ji.\ltUAU()rS LA.M\NE-QC 


Departure of the Caravan — Encampment in a fertile Valley — Intensity of the 
Cold — Meeting with numerous Pilgrims — Barbarous and Diabolical Cere- 
monies of Lamanism — Project for the Lamaserj?- of Rache-Tchurin — Dis- 
jiersion and rallying of the little Caravan — Anger of Samdudt-hiemba — Aspect 
of the Lamasery of Rache-Tchurin — Diflerent Kinds of Pilgrimages around 
the Lamaseries — Turning Prayers — Qiîarrel between two Lamas — Similarity 
of the Soil — Description of the Tabsoun-Noor or Salt Sea — Remarks on the 
Camels of Tartary. 

The Tartar who had just taken his leave had informed ns, that at 
a short distance from the caverns we should find in a vale the 
finest pasturages in the whole country of the Ortous. We resolved 
to depart. It was near noon already when we started. The sky 
vras clear, the sun brilliant; hut the temp^'rature, still afi^ected 
Ity the storm of the preceding day, was cold and sharp, x-^fter 
having travelled for nearly two hours over a sandy soil, deeply 


fuiTowed l\v the streams of rain, we entered, on a sudden, a valley 
whose smiling, fertile aspect singularly contrasted with all that we 
had hitherto seen among the Ortous. In the centre flowed an 
abundant livulet, whose sources were lost in the sand ; and on 
both sides, the hills, which rose like an amphitheatre, were covered 
with ])asturage and clumps of shiaibs. 

Though it was still early, we gave up all idea of continuing our 
journey that day. The place was too beautiful to be passed by : 
besides, the north wind had risen, and the air became intolerably 
cold. We pitched our tent, therefore, in a corner, sheltered by the 
hills. From the interior of the tent, our view extended, without 
obstruction, down the valley, and we were thus enabled to watch oui" 
animals without moving. 

After sunset, the violence of the wind increased, and the cold 
became more and more intense. We thought it advisable to take 
some measures of security. Whilst Samdadchiemba piled up large 
stones to consolidate the borders of the tent, we went about tlie 
adjacent hills, and made, by aid of a hatchet, an abundant provision 
of fuel. As soon as we had taken our tea and our daily broth, we 
went to sleep. But sleep did not last long ; the cold became so 
severe that it soon roused us. " We can't remain so," said the 
Dchiahom-; "if we don't want to die of cold on our goatskins, we 
must get up and make a large fire." Samdadchiemba's words 
were full of sense ; it was not advisable to sleep at such a time, and 
accordingly we rose, and added to our usual dress the great sheep- 
skin robes that we had bought at Blue Town. 

Our fire of roots and green branches was hardly lighted, when 
we felt our eyes as it were calcined by the biting, acid influence of 
a thick smoke, which filled the tent. We opened the door; but as 
tliis gave admission to the wind, without getting rid of the smoke, 
we were soon obhged to shut it again. Samdadchiemba was not in 
any way molested by the thick smoke, which stifled us and drew 
burning tears from our eyes. He laughed without pity at seeing 
us crouched by the fire, our heads bending over our knees, and our 
faces buried in both hands. " My spiritual fathers," he said, " vour 
eyes are large and briglit, but they cannot endure a little smoke ; 
mine are small and ugly, but, never mind, they perform their sei- 
vice very well." 'J'he jests of our camel driver were not much 
adapted to cheer us up; we suffered dreadfully. Yet, amid our 
tribulations, we saw occasion to feel our ha})]uness to be very great. 
We could not reflect without gratitude upon the goodness of Pro- 
vidence, which had led us to caves, whose great value we now 
fully appreciated. If we had not been able to dry our clothes, 
if we had been surprised by the cold in the piteous state in 


which the storm had left us, we certain!}^ conld not have 
lived long; we should have been fiozen with our clothes in one 
iramovahJe block. 

We did not think it prudent to proceed amid such severe cold, 
and to leave an encampment, where at least our animals got suffi- 
cient herbage to browse upon, and where fuel was abundant. 
Towards noon, the weather having grown milder, we went out to 
cut wood on the hillo. On our way we observed that our animals 
had left the pasturage, and collected on the banks of the rivulet. 
We at once conceived that they were tormented by thirst, and that 
the stream being frozen, they could not quench it. We bent our 
steps to tliem, and found, in fact, the camels eagerly licking the 
sinface of the ice, while the liorse and the mule were kicking upon 
it with their hard hoofs. The hatchet we had brought with us to 
cut wood, served to break the ice, and to dig a small pond, where 
our animals could quench their thirst. 

Towards evening, the cold having resumed its intensity, we 
adopted a plan for enabling us to obtain a better sleep than we had 
in the preceding night. Until morning, the time was divided into 
tliree watches, and each of us was charged, in turns, with keeping 
up a large fire in the tent, while the others slept. Thus we did not 
feel much of the cold, and slept in peace, without fear of setting 
our linen house on fire. 

After two days of horrible cold the wind abated, and we resolved 
to proceed on our way. It was only with gi-eat difficulty that we 
got down our tent. The first nail that we tried to draw out, broke 
like glass under the hammer. The sandy, humid soil on which we 
had made our encampment, was so frozen that the nails stuck in it 
as if they had been incrusted in stone. To uproot them, we were 
obliged to wet them several times with boiling water. 

At the time of our departure, the temperature was so mild that 
we were fain to take off oui skin coats, and to pack them up until 
further occasion. Nothing is more frequent in Tartary than these 
sudden changes of temperature. Sometimes the mildest weather is 
abruptly followed by the most horrible frost. All that is needed for 
this is the falling of snow, and the subsequent rise of the north 
wind. Any one not inured to these sudden changes of the atmo- 
sphere, and not provided, in travelling, with well-frured robes, is often 
exposed to dreadful accidents. In the north of Mongolia especially, 
it is not unusual to find travellers fiozen to death amidst the desert. 

On the fifteenth day of the new moon, we came upon numerous 
caravans, following, like ourselves, the direction from east to west. 
The road was filled with men, women, and children, riding on 
camels or oxen. They were all repairing, they said, to the Lama 


sery of Rache-Tchurin. When they had asked whether our journey 
had the same object, they were surprised at receiving an answer in 
the negative. These numerous jnlgi'ims, the astonishment they 
showed upon hearing that we were not going to the Lamasery of 
Eache-Tchurin, excited our curiosity. At the turn of a defile, we 
overtook an old Lama, who, laden with a heavy pack, seemed to 
make his way with great labour and pain. " Brother," said we, 
" you are old ; your black hairs are not so numerous as the grey. 
Doubtless your fatigue must be extreme. Place your burden upon 
one of our camels ; that will relieve you a little." Upon hearing these 
words the old man prostrated himself before us, in order to express 
his gi'atitude. We made a camel kneel, and Saradadchiemba added to 
our baggage that of the Lama. So soon as the jnlgrim was relieved 
from the weight which had oppressed him, his walk became more 
elastic, and an expression of satisfaction was diffused over his coun- 
tenance. " Brother," said we, " we are from the West, and the afFaii's 
of your country not being well known tous, we are astonished at 
finding so many pilgrims here in the desert." "We are all going 
to Rache-Tchurin," replied he, in accents full of emotion. " Doubt- 
less," said we, " some grand solemnity calls you together?" "Yes, 
to-morrow will be a great day: a Lama Boktè will manifest his 
power: kill himself, yet not die." We at once understood what 
solemnity it was that thus attracted the Ortous-Tartars. A Lama 
was to cut himself open, take out his entrails and place them before 
him, and then resume his previous condition. This spectacle, so 
cruel and disgusting, is very common in the Lamaseries of Tartary. 
The Boktè who is to manifest his power, as the Mongols phrase it, 
prepares himself for the formidable operation by many days fasting 
and prayer, pending which, he must abstain from all communication 
whatever with mankind, and observe the most absolute silence. 
When the appointed day is come, the multitude of pilgrims assemble 
in the great court of the Lamasery, where an altar is raised in front 
of the Temple-gate. At length the Boktè appears. He advances 
gravely, amid the acclamations of the crowd, seats himself upon the 
altar, and takes from his girdle a large knife which he places upon 
his knees. At his feet, numerous Lamas, ranged in a circle, com- 
mence the terrible invocations of this frightful ceremony. As the 
recitation of the prayers proceeds, you see the Boktè trembling in 
every limb, and gradually working himself up into phrenetic con- 
vulsions. The Lamas themselves become excited: then' voices are 
raised ; their song observes no order, and at last becomes a mere 
confusion of yelling and outciy. Then the Boktè suddenly throws 
aside the scarf which envelopes him, unfastens his giidle, and 
seizing the sacred knife, slits open his stomach, in one long cut. 


While the blood flows in every direction, the multitude prostrate 
themselves before the terrible spectacle, and the enthusiast is inter- 
rogated about all sorts of hidden things, as to future events, as to the 
destiny of certain personages. The replies of the Boktè to all 
these questions are regarded, by everybody, as oracles. 

AVhen the devout curiosity of the numerous pilgrims is satisfied, 
the Lamas resume, but now calmly and gravely, the recitation of 
their prayers. The Boktè takes, in his right liand, blood from his 
wound, raises it to his mouth, breathes thrice upon it, and then 
throws it into the air, with loud cries. He next passes his hand 
rapidly over his wound, closes it, and everything after a while re- 
sumes its pristine condition, no tiace remaining of the diabolical 
operation, except extreme 25rostration. The Boktè once more rolls 
his scarf round hira, recites in a low voice, a short prayer; then all 
is over, and the multitude disperse, with the exception of a few of 
the especially devout, who remain to contemplate and to adore the 
blood-stained altar which the Saint has quitted. 

These horrible ceremonies are of frequent occurrence in the 
great Lamaseries of Tartary and Thibet, and we do not believe 
that there is any trick or deception about them; for from all we 
have seen and heard, among idolatrous nations, we are persuaded 
that the devil has a great deal to do with the matter ; and moreover, 
our impression that there is no trick in the operation is fortified by 
the opinion of the most intelligent and most upright Buddhists 
whom we have met in the numerous Lamaseries we visited. 

It is not every Lama that can perform miraculous operations. 
Those who have the fearful power to cut themselves open, for ex- 
ample, are never found in the higher ]-anks of the Lama hierarchy. 
They are generally lay Lauias of indifferent character, and little 
esteemed by their comrades. The regular Lamas generally make 
no scruple to avow their horror of the spectacle. In their eyes, all 
these operations are wicked and diabolical. Good Lamas, they say, 
are incapable of performing such acts, and should not even desire to 
attain the impious talent. 

Though these demoniac operations are, in general, decried in 
well-regulated Lamaseries, yet the superiors do not prohibit them. 
On the contrary, there are certain days in the year set apart for 
the disgusting spectacle. Interest is, doubtless, the only motive 
which could induce the Grand Lamas to favour actions which in 
their conscience they reprove. The fact is, that these diabohcal 
displays are an infallible means of collecting together a swarm of 
stupid and ignorant devotees, who communicate renown to the 
Lamasery, and enrich it with the numerous offerings which the 
Tartars never fail to bring with them on such occasions. 


Cutting open the abdomen is one of the most famous siè-fa 
(siipernaturaiisms) possessed by the Lamas. There are others of 
the same class, less imposing, but more common ; these are practised 
in people's houses, privately, and not at the great solemnities of tlie 
Lamaseries. For example, they heat irons red-hot, and then hck 
them \Yith impunity; they make incisions in various parts of the 
body, which an instant afterwards leave no trace behind, kc All these 
operations have to be preceded by the recitation of some prayer. 

\Ye knew a Lama who, according to every one's belief, could fill 
a vase with water, by the mere agency of a prayer ; but we could 
never induce him to try the experiment in our presence. He told 
us that as we held not the same faith with him, the experiment, in our 
company, would not be merely fruitless, but would expose him to 
serious danger. One day, however, he recited to us the prayer of 
his sié-fa. It was brief, but we readily recognised in it a direct 
appeal to the assistance of the demon. " I know thee, thou knowest 
me ; " thus it ran : " Come old friend, do what I ask of thee. Bring 
water, and fill the vase I hold out to thee. To fill a vase with water, 
what is that to thy vast power ! J know thou chai'gest dear for a 
vase of water; but never mind : do what I ask of thee, and fill the 
vase I present to thee. Some time hence we'll come to a reckoning : 
on the appointed day thou shalt receive thy due." It sometimes 
happens that the appeal remains without effect: in such cases, 
praying is discontinued, and the being invoked is assailed with 
insults and imprecations- 

The famous sié-fa that was now attracting so lai'ge a number of 
pilgiimsto the Lamasery of Eache-Tchurin, inspu-ed us with the idea 
(Â repairing thither also, and of neutralizing, by our j^i'ayers, the 
Satanic invocations of the Lamas. Who knows, said we to each 
other, who knows but that God even now has designs of mercy 
towards the Mongols of the Ortous land ; perhaps the sight ol their 
Lama's power, fettered and overcome by the presence of the priests 
of Jesus Christ, will strike upon the hearts of these people, and make 
tliem renounce the lying creed of Buddha, and embrace the faith of 
Christianity ! To encourage each other in this design, we dwelt 
upon the history of Simon Magus, arrested in his flight by the 
prayer of St. Peter, and precipitated from the air to the feet of his 
admii-ers. Of course, ])oor missionaries, such as we, had not the 
insane pretension to compare ourselves with the prince of the Ap)os- 
tles ; but we knew that the protection of God, which is sometimes 
granted in virtue of the merit and sanctity of him who seeks it, is 
also often accorded to the omnipotent effacity in prayer itself. 

V\"e resolved, therefore, to go to Eache-Tchurin, to mingle with 
the crowd, and, at the moment when the diabolical invocations 


should commence, to place ourselves, fearlessly, and with an air ot 
authority before the Boktè , and to solemnly forbid him, in the name 
of Jesus Christ, to make a display of his detestable power. We did 
not disguise from ourselves the possible results of this proceeding; 
we knew that it would assuredly excite the fury and hatred of the 
adorers of Buddha ; and that perhaps a violent death would be an 
instant reward for the endeavour to convert these Tartars; "But 
what matter ! " exclaimed we ; " let us do courageously our woik as 
missionaries; let us employ fearlessly the power that we have re- 
ceived from on high, and leave to Providence the care of a future 
which does not appertain to us." 

Such were our intentions and our hopes; but the views of God 
are not always in conformity with the designs of man, even when 
these appear most in harmony with the plan of His Providence. 
That very day there happened to us an accident which, canying 
us far away from Eache-Tchurin, involved us in the most distressing 

In the evening, the old Lama who was travelling with us 
asked us to make the camel kneel, so that he might take his pack 
from its back. " Brother," said we, " are we not going to journey 
together to the Lamasery of Rache-Tchurin ?" " No ; I must follow 
the -p-àta which you see meandering towards the north, along those 
hills. Behind that sand-hill is a trading place, where, upon festival 
days, a few Chinese merchants set up ther tents and sell goods. As 
I want to make a few purchases, I cannot continue to walk in yom* 
shadow." " Can we buy flour at the Chinese encampment?" 
" Millet, oatmeal, flour, beef, mutton, tea-bricks, everything is sold 
there." Not having been able to purchase provisions since our 
departure from Tchagan-Kouren, we considered this a favourable 
opportunity for supplying our deficiency in this respect. In order 
not to fatigue our beasts of burden with a long circuit across stony 
hills, M. Gabet took the flour-sacks upon his camel, separated from 
the caravan, and went oflp at a galloj^ towards the Chinese post. 
According to the indications furnished by the old Lama, he was to 
meet us again in a valley at no great distance from the Lamasery. 

After travelling for nearly an hour along a rugged road, continu 
ally intersected by pits and quagmires, the Missionary Purveyor 
reached the small heath, on which he found a number of Chines 
encamped, some of their tents serving as shops, and the rest as 
dwellings. The encampment presented the appearance of a small 
town full of trade and activity, the customers being the Lamas of 
Eache-Tchurin and the Mongol pilgrims. M. Gabet speedily 
effected his purchases ; and having filled his sacks with flour, and 
hung two magnificent sheeps' livers over one of the camel's humps, 


rode off to tlie j)lace where it had been arranged the caravon should 
await him. He soon reached the spot, but lie found no peison 
there, and no trace of man or beast having recently passed was 
\Tisible on the sand. Imagining that perhaps some derangement of 
the camels' loads had delayed our progi-ess, he turned into the road, 
which it had been agi-eed we should follow; but it was to no pur 
pose that he hastened along it, that he galloped here and there, 
that he ascended every hill he came to, — he could see nothing; and 
the cries he uttered to attract our attention remained unanswered. 
He visited several points where various roads met, but he found 
merely another confusion of the steps of horses, camels, oxen, 
sheep, tending in eveiy direction, and crossing and recrossiug each 
other, so that he was left, at last, witliout even a conjectai'e. 

By-and-by he recalled to mind that our aim, as last resolved, 
had been the Lamasery of Eache-Tchurin ; he turned round, and 
perceiving the Lamasery in the distance, huiTied thither as fast as 
he could go. When he reached the structme, which stood in tlie 
form of an amphitheatre upon the slope of a hill, he looked eveiy 
where for us, and asked everybody about us, for here, at least, there 
was no lack of j^ersons from whom to seek information, and our 
little caravan was composed in n manner likely to attract the atten- 
tion of those who saw it at all : two laden camels, a white horse, 
and, above all, a black mule, that eveiyone we passed stojDped to 
reraai-k, on account of its extreme diminutiveness, and the splendid 
tint of its skin. ]\r. Gabet inquired and inquired, but t(> no pur- 
pose ; no one had seen our caravan. He ascended to the summit 
of the hill, whence the eye extended over a large expanse, but he 
could see nothing at all like us. 

The sun set, yet the caravan did not aj)pear. M. Gabet begin- 
ning to fear that some serious accident had befallen it, once more 
set off, and searched in every dii-ection, up hill and down dale, but 
he could see nothing of us, and learn nothing of us, from the tra 
vellers whom he met. 

The niglit advanced, and soon the Lamasery of Eache-Tchunn 
disappeared in the daikness. M. Gabet found himself alone in 
the desert, without path and without shelter, fearing alike to advance 
or to recede, lest he should fall into some abyss. He was fain, 
therefore, to stop where he was, in anaiTOw, sandy defile, andto j)ass 
the night there. By way of supper, he had to content himself 
with an Impression de Voyage. Not that provisions were wanting, 
by any means, but fire was, and water. Besides, the feeling of 
hunger was superseded by the anxieties which alBicted his heart as 
to the caravan. He knelt on the sand, said his evening prayer, 
and then lay down his head upon one of the flour sacks beside the 


camel, keeping its bridle round his arm lest the animal should 
stray during the night. It is needless to add that his sleep was 
neitlier sound nor continuous ; the cold, hare ground is not a very 
eligible bed, especially for a man preyed upon by dark anxieties. 

With the earliest dawn, M. Gabet mounted his camel, and 
though well nigh exhausted with hunger and fatigue, proceeded 
anew in search of his companions. 

The caravan was not lost, though it was terribly astray. After 
M. Gabet had quitted us, in order to visit the Chinese post, we at 
first exactly followed the right path ; but before long we entered 
upon a vast steppe, all trace of road insensibly faded away amidst 
sand so fine that the slightest wind made it undulate like sea- waves , 
there was no vestige upon it of the travellers who had pieceded us. 
By-aud-by the road disappeared altogether, and we found ourselves 
environed with yellow hills, which presented not the slightest sug- 
gestion even of vegetation. AI. Hue, fearing to lose himself amid 
these sands, stopped the cameleer. " Samdadchiemba," said he, 
" do not let us proceed at random. You see yonder, in tlie valley, 
that Tartar horseman driving a herd of oxen ; go and ask him the 
way to Rache-Tchurin." Samdadchiemba raised his head, and 
looked for a moment, closing one eye, at the sun, which was veiled 
with some passing clouds. " My spiritual father," said he, " I 
am accustomed to wander about the desert ; my opinion is, that 
we are quite in the right road : let us continue our course westward, 
and we êannot go astray." " Well, well, since you think you know 
the desert, keep on." " Oh, yes ; don't be afraid. You see that 
long, white line on the mountain yonder ? tliat's the road, after its 
issue from the sands." 

On Samdadchiemba's assurance, we continued to advance in the 
same direction. We soon came to a road, as he had promised, but 
it was a road disused, upon which we could see no person to confirm 
01' contradict the assertion of Samdadchiemba, who persisted that 
we were on the way to Eache-Tchurin. The sun set, and the twi- 
light gradually gave place to tlie darkness of night, without our 
discovering the least indication of the Lamasery, or, which surprised 
us still more, of M. Gabet, who, according to the information of 
the old Lama, ought to have rejoined us long ago. Samdadchiemba 
was silent, for he now saw that we had lost our vv^ay. 

It was important to encamp before the night had altogether 
closed in. Perceiving a well at the end of a hollow, we set up our 
tent beside it. By the time our linen-house was in order, and the 
baggage piled, the night had completely set in; yet M. Gabet had 
not appeared. " Get on a camel," said Â1. Hue to Samdadchiemba, 
" and look about for M. Gabet." The Dchiahour made no reply; 


he was thoroughly disconcerted and depressed. Driving a stake 
into the gi-oimd, he fastened one of the camels to it, and mounting 
upon the other, departed mournfully in quest of our friend. He 
had scarcely got out of sight, wlien the camel that was left behind, 
finding itself alone, sent forth the most frightful cries ; hy-and-hy 
it became furious; it turned round and round the stake, hacked to 
tlie very limit of the rope and of its long neck, made longer by 
painful extension, and applied every effort to get rid of the wooden 
curl that was passed through its nose: the spectacle of its struggle 
was really frightfid. At last it succeeded in breaking the cord, and 
then dashed off boundingly into the desert. The horse and mule 
had also disappeared; they were hungry and thirsty; and about 
tlie tent there was not a blade of grass, not a drop of water. The 
well beside which we had encamped was perfectly dry ; in fact, it 
was nothing more tlian an old cistern which had probably been for 
years useless. 

Thus our little caravan, which for nearly two months had 
journeyed, without once separating, through the desert plains ot 
Tartary, was now utterly dispersed ; man and beast — all had disap- 
peared. There remained only M. Hue, solitaiy in his little linen- 
house, and a prey to the most corroding anxieties. For a whole 
day he had neither eaten nor drunk ; but under such ch'cumstances 
you do not ordinarily feel either hunger or thirst ; the mind is too 
fidl to give any place to the suggestions of the body ; you seem 
environed with a thousand fearful phantoms; and great indeed 
were your desolation, but that you have for your safety and your 
consolation, prayer, the sole lever that can raise from off your heart 
the weight of sombre apprehensions that would otherwise crush it. 

The hours passed on, and no one returned. As, in the obscm'ity 
of night, persons might pass quite close to the tent, and yet not 
see it, M. Hue, from time to time, ascended the adjacent hills and 
rocks, and, in his loudest tones, called out the names of his lost 
companions, but no one replied ; all still was silence, and solitude. 
]t was near midnight, when at length the plaintive cries of a camel, 
apparently remonstrating against being driven so fast, were heard 
in the distance. Samdadchiemba soon came up. He had met 
several Tartar horsemen who had no tidings, indeed, of M. Gabet, 
but fi'om whom he learned that we had gone altogether astray ; 
that the road we were pursuing led to a Mongol encampment, in 
precisely the contrary direction to Eache-Tchurin. " By day-break," 
said Samdadchiemba, " we must raise the tent, and find the right 
patli ; we shall there, no doubt, meet the elder spiritual father." 
" Samdadchiemba, your advice is a bubble; the tent and the bag- 
gage must remain here, for the excellent reason, that they cannot 


be moved without animals." " Animals !" exclaimed the Dchiahour , 
" where, then, is the camel I fastened to the stake?" " It broke 
the rope and ran away ; the horse and the mule have run away too, 
and I have not the least idea where any of them are to be sought." 
" This is a pretty business," grumbled the cameleer ; " however, 
when day breaks we must see what can be done. Meanwhile, let 
us make a little tea." " Make tea, by all means, if you can make 
tea Avithout water, but water there is none ; the well is perfectly 
dry." This announcement completed the discomfiture of poor 
Samdadchiemba ; he sank back quite exhausted upon the baggage, 
and his weariness soon threw him into deep slumber. 

With the first streaks of dawn, M. Hue ascended an adjacent 
hill in the hope of discovering something or somebody. He per- 
ceived, in a distant valley, two animals, one black, one white ; he 
hastened to them, and found our horse and mule browsing on some 
thin, dusty grass, beside a cistern of soft water. When he led the 
animals back to the tent, the sun was about to rise, but Samdad- 
chiemba still slumbered, lying in exactly the same position which 
he had assumed when he went to sleep. " Samdadchiemba," cried 
M. Hue, " won't you have some tea this morning ? " At the word 
tea, our cameleer jumped up as though he had been electrified; he 
looked round, his eyes still heavy with sleep, " Did not the spiritual 
father mention tea? Where is the tea? Did I dream I was going 
to have some tea?" "I don't know whether you dreamed it, but 
tea you may have, if you wish, as there is soft water in the valley 
yonder, where, just now, I found the horse and the mule. Do you 
go and fetch some water, while I light the fire." Samdadchiemba 
joyfully adopted the proposition, and putting the buckets over his 
shoulders, hastened to the cistern. 

When tea was ready, Samdadchiemba became quite comfortable ; 
he was absorbed with his beloved beverage, and seemed to have alto- 
gether forgotten the disruption of the caravan. It was necessary, 
however, to recall the circumstance to him, in order that he might 
go in search of the camel that had run away. 

Nearly one half the day elapsed, yet his companions did not 
rejoin M. Hue. From time to time there passed Tartar horsemen 
or pilgrims returning from the festival of Eache-Tchurin. Of these 
M. Hue inquired whether they had not seen, in the vicinity of the 
Lamasery, a Lama dressed in a yellow robe and a red jacket, and 
mounted on a red camel. " The Lama," said he, " is very tall, with 
a great grey beard, a long pointed nose, and a red face." To this 
description, there was a general answer in the negative : " Had we 
seen such a personage," said the travellers, " we should certainly 
have remarked him." 


At length, M. Gabet appeared on the slope of a hill ; from its 
summit he had recognised our blue tent pitched in the valley, and 
he galloped to\vards his recovered companion as fast as his camel 
could go. After a brief, animated conversation, wherein both spoke 
and neither answered, we burst into a hearty laugh at the misad- 
venture tlnis happily terminated. The reorganization of the caravan 
was completed before sunset, by Samdadchiemba's return with the 
missing camel, which, after a long round, he had found fastened to 
a tent ; the Tartar, who owned the tent, having seen the animal 
running away, had caught it and secured it until some one should 
claim it. 

Though the day was far advanced, we determined to remove, for 
the place where we had encamped was miserable beyond all ex- 
pression. Not a blade of grass was to be seen, and the water I had 
discovered was at so great a distance, that it involved quite a 
journey to fetch it, " Besides," said we, " if we can only, before night, 
manage to get within sight of the right road, it will be a great 
point gained." Our departure thus determined, we sat down to tea. 
The conversation naturally turned upon the vexatious mischance 
which had given us so much fatigue and trouble. Already more 
than once, on our journey, the intractable, obstinate temperament 
of Samdadchiemba had been the occasion of our losing our way. 
Mounted on his little mule, as we have described, it was he who 
led the caravan, preceding the beasts of burden. Upon his assump- 
tion that he thoroughly understood the four cardinal points, and 
that he was perfectly conversant with the deserts of Mongolia, he 
would never condescend to inquire the route from persons whom he 
met, and we not unfrequently suffered from his self opinion. We 
were resolved, therefore, to convert the accident which had just 
befallen us, into the basis of a warning to our guide. " Samdad- 
chiemba," said we, " listen with attention to the important advice 
we are about to imjiart. Though in your youth you may have 
travelled a good deal in Mongolia, it does not follow that you are 
master of all the routes ; distrust, therefore, your own conjectures, 
and be more willing to consult the Tartars whom we meet. If 
yesterday, for example, you had asked the way, if you had not 
persisted in your practice of being guided wholly by the course of 
the sun, we should not have endured so much misery." Samdad- 
chiemba made no reply. 

We then got up to make the preparations for depai'ture. When 
we had put in order the different articles that had been confusedly 
thrown about the tent, we remarked that the Dchiahour was not 
occupied, as usual, in saddling the camels. We went to see what 
he was about, and to our great surjjrise found him tranquilly seated 


upon a large stone Leliind the tent. " Well ! " exclaimed we, " has 
it not been determined that we are to encamp elsewhere this 
evening? What are you seated on that stone for?" Samdad- 
chiemba made no reply ; he did not even raise his eyes, but kept 
them fixedly directed towards the ground. " Samdadchiemba, 
what is the matter with you ? Why don't you saddle the camels? " 
" If you wish to go," replied he clrily, "you can go; as for me, I 
remain here. I cannot any longer accompany you. I am, it seems, 
a wicked man, devoid of conscience ; what occasion can you have 
for such a person? " We were greatly surprised to hear this from 
a young neophyte who had seemed so attached to us. We, how- 
ever, thought it best to attempt no persuasion, lest we should 
aggravate the sullen pride of his character, and render him still 
more indocile for the future. AVe accordingly proceeded to do the 
necessary work om'selves. 

We had already folded the tent and packed it on a camel, not a 
word being spoken by any of the party. Samdadchiemba remained 
seated on the stone, covering his face with his hands, and probably 
watching through his fingers how we got on with the labour which 
he was accustomed to fulfil. Wben he saw that we were doing 
very well without him, he rose, without uttering a word, loaded the 
other camel, saddled his own mule, mounted it, and led the way as 
usual. M. Gabet and M. Hue exchanged smiles, but they said 
nothing, for they feared that any observations at that moment might 
irritate a temperament which evidently required the greatest care 
in its management. 

We halted in a spot beside the road, not very magnificent, cer 
tainly, as a station, but at all events, infinitely preferable to the 
ravine of desolation in which we had experienced such miser^\ 
There was this great blessing, that we were once more united ; an 
immense satisfaction in tiie desert, and which we had never suffi- 
ciently appreciated imtil the occm'rence of the mischance that had 
for a while separated us. We celebrated the occasion by a splendid 
banquet, of which the flour and sheep's liver, purchased by M. 
Gabet, formed the basis. This unaccustomed treat relaxed the 
frowning brow of Samdadchiemba, who applied himself to the 
culinary an-angements with absolute enthusiasm, and effected, with 
very limited resources, a supper of several courses. 

Next morning, at daybreak, we were in motion. We had not 
proceeded far when we discovered before us, outlined on the yellow 
ground of a sandy hill, several large buildings, surrounded with a 
multitude of white huts. This was the Lamasery of Eache-Tchurin, 
which, as we approached it, seemed to us a well-built, well-kept 
place. The three Buddhist temples which rise from the centre of 






the establisliment, are of elegant, of majestic construction. The 
entrance to the principal temple is through a square tower of co- 
lossal proportions, at each angle of which is a monstrous dragon, 
elaborately carved in stone. We traversed the Lamasery from one 
end to the other, along the chief streets. There was throughout 
religious and solemn silence. The only persons we saw were a few 
Lamas enveloped in their large red scarfs, who, after giving us the 
salutation of the day in a tone scarce above a whisper, gravely 
continued their melancholy walk. 

Towards the western extremity of the Lamasery, Samdad- 
chiemba's little mule shied, and then dashed off at a gallop, followed 
in its irregular flight, by the two baggage camels. The animals on 
which we were mounted w^ere equally alarmed. All this disorder 
was occasioned by a young Lama, who was stretched at i'ull length 
in the middle of the street, performing a rite in great vogue among 
the Buddhisis, and which consists in making the circuit of a Lama- 
seiy, prostrating yourself, with your forehead to the ground, at 
every single step you make. Sometimes the number of devotees 
performing together this painful pilgrimage is perfectly prodigious; 


they follow each other, in Indian file, along a narrow path which 
encircles the entire Lamasery and its appendant buildings. Any 
one who deviates in the slightest degree from the prescribed line, is 
considered to have failed in his devotion, and loses all the fruit he 
would otherwise have derived from his previous toil. Where the 
Lamasery is of any extent, the devotees have hard work to get 
through the ceremony in the course of a long day; so that the 
pilgrims, who have undertaken this exercise, and have started 
early in the morning, think themselves lucky if they can complete 
the operation by nightfall. For the pilgiimage must be performed 
without inteiTnission, so strictly, that the pilgiims are not allowed 
to stop for a moment even to take a little nourishment. If, after 
commencing the rite you do not complete it off-hand, it does not 
count ; you have acquired no merit, and you are not to expect any 
spiritual profit. 

Each prostration must be perfect, so that the body shall be 
stretched flat along the ground, and the forehead touch the earth, 
the arms being spread out before you, and the hands joined, as if 
in prayer. Before rising, the pilgrim describes each time a semi 
circle on the ground by means of a goat's horn, which he holds in 
either hand, the line being completed by drawing the arm down to 
the side. You cannot but feel infinite compassion when you look 
upon these wretched creatures, their face and clothes all covered 
with dust or mud. The most inclement weather will not check 
their intrepid devotion ; they continue their prostrations amid snow 
and rain and the most ftiercing cold. 

There are various modes of performing the pilgrimage round a 
Lamaseiy. Some pilgrims do not prostrate themselves at all, but 
carry, instead, a load of prayer-books, the exact weight of which is 
prescribed them by the Great Lama, and the burden of which is so 
oppressive at times that you see old men, women, and children 
absolutely staggering under it. When, however, they have suc- 
cessfully completed the circuit, they are deemed to have recited all 
the prayers contained in the books they have earned. Others 
content themselves with simply walking the circuit, telling the 
beads of their long chaplets, or constantly turning a sort of wheel, 
l^laced in the right hand, and which whirls about with incon- 
ceivable rapidity. This instrument is called Tchu-Kor, (turning 
prayer.) You see in every brook a number of these Tchu-Kor, ' 
which are turned by the current, and in their movement are re- 
luited to be praying, night and day, for the benefit of those who 
erect them. The Tartars suspend them over the fire-place, and 
these in their movements are supposed to pray for the peace and 
prosperity of the whole family, emblemed by the hearth. The 



movement itself is effected by the thorough draught occasioned by 
the openings at the top of the tent. 

The Buddhists have another mode of simplifying pilgrimages 
and devotional rites. In all the great Lamaseries you find at short 
intervals figures in the form of baiTels, and turning upon an axle. 
The material of these figures is a thick hoard, composed of infinite 
sheets of paper pasted together, and upon which are wiitten in 
Thibetian characters the prayers most reputed throughout the 
country. Those who have not the taste, or the zeal, or the strength 


to cari-y huge boards of books on their shoulders, or to prostrate 
themselves, step after step, in the dust and mii'e, or to walk round 
the Lamaseiy in winter's cold or summer's heat, have recourse to 
the simple and expeditious medium of the prayer barrel. All they 
have to do is to set it in motion; it then turns of itself for a long 
time, the devotees drinking, eating, or sleeping, while the compla- 
cent mechanism is turning prayers for them. 

One day, on approaching a prayer barrel, we found two Lamas 


quarrelling furiously, and just on the point of coming to blows, the 
occasion being the fervour of each for prayer. One of them 
having set the prayer automaton in motion, had quietly returned 
to his cell. As he was entering it he turned his head, doubtless to 
enjoy the spectacle of the fine prayers he had set to work for 
himself, but to his infinite disgust, he saw a colleague stopping 
his prayers, and about to turn on the barrel on his own account. 
Indignant at this pious fraud, he ran back, and stopped his com- 
petitor's prayers. Thus it went on for some time, the one turning 
on, the other stopping the baiTCÎ, without a word said on either 
side. At last, however, their patience exhausted, they came to 
high words ; from words they proceeded to menaces, and it would 
doubtless have come to a fight, had not an old Lama, attracted by 
the uproar, interposed words of peace, and himself put the auto- 
maton in motion for the joint benefit of both parties. 

Besides the pilgrims whose devotion is exercised within or 
about the Lamaseries, you find many who have undertaken fear- 
fully long journies, which ihey execute with a prostration at every 
stejj. Sad and lamentable is it to see these unhappy victims of 
error enduring, to no purj)Ose, such terrible and painful labours ; 
one's heart is pierced with grief, and one's soul impressed with 
yearning for the day when these poor Tartars shall consecrate to the 
service of the true God that religious energy which they daily 
waste upon a vain and lying creed. We had hoped to profit by the 
solemnities at Kache-Tchurin to announce the true faith to the 
Ortous ; but such was doubtless not the will of God, since He had 
permitted us to lose our way on the very day which seemed most 
favourable for our project. We accordingly passed through the 
Lamasery of Rache-Tchurin without stopping, eager as we were 
to arrive at the very source of that immense superstition, of which, 
as yet, we had only witnessed a few shallow streams. 

At a short distance from Eache-Tchurin we reached a road 
well marked out, and covered with travellers. It was not, how- 
ever, devotion that had set these people in motion, as it had the 
pilgrims whom we saw at the Lamasery ; mere matter of business 
was leading them towards the Dabsoun-Noor, (the Salt Lake,) 
celebrated throughout Western Mantchou, and which supplies 
with salt, not only the adjacent Tartars, but also several provinces 
of the Chinese Empire. 

For a day's journey before you reach Dabsoun-Noor the soil 
changes by degrees its form and aspect ; losing its yellow tint, it 
becomes insensibly white, as though thinly covered with snow. 
The earth swelling in every direction, forms innumerable hillocks, 
cone-shaped, and of a regularity so perfect that you might suppose 


them to have been constiTicted by the hand of man. Sometimes 
they are gi'ouped in heaps, one on the other, like pears piled on a 
plate ; they are of all sizes, some but just created, others old, 
exhausted, and falling to decay. Around these excrescences gi-ow 
creeping thorns, long-pointed, without flowers or leaves, which, 
intertwining spirally, surmoiiut them with a sort of net-work cap. 
These thorns are never found elsewhere than about these hillocks ; 
ujjon those of more recent gi'owth they are firm, vigorous, and full 
of shoots. Upon the elder elevations they are diied up, calcined 
by the nitre, bnttle, and in shreds. 

As you look upon these numerous mounds, covered with a thick 
efflorescence of nitre, it is obvious to your sense that beneath the 
Burface, and at no gi*eat depth, some great chemical operation is in 
progress. Springs, generally so rare in the Ortous country, are 
here of fiequent occurrence, but the water is for the most part 
excessively salt. Here and there, however, by the very side of 
a brackish pool, there is a spring of soft, sweet, delicious water ; 
all such are indicated to travellers by a small flag, fluttering from 
the end of a long pole. 

Dabsoun-Noor is not so much a lake as a reservoir of mineral 
salt, mixed with nitrous effloresence. The latter, in colom- pale 
white, and cnmibling between the fingers, is easily distinguish- 
able from the salt, which is of a grey tint, and glitters Uke crystal 
when broken. Dabsoim-Noor is about twenty hs in circumference. 
Around it, at intervals, are the tents occupied by the Mongols who 
work it, and the Chinese who have thrust themselves in as partners. 
It were diflicult indeed to find any desciiption of industry or com- 
merce within a certain range of their own coimtiy in which the 
Chinese do not contrive to have a hand. The manipulation to 
which the salt is subjected requires neither gi-eat labour nor gi'eat 
science. All the workers do is to pick it up as it comes in the 
reservoir, to pile it, and, when the heap is of a certain size, to cover 
it with a thin coating of potter's earth. When the salt has sufii- 
ciently purified itself, the Tartars convey it to the nearest Chinese 
mart and exchange it for tea, tobacco, brandy, and other com- 
modities. In the locality itself salt is of no value : at every step 
you see lumps of it, sometimes of remarkable puiity. We filled a 
bag with these for our OAvn use and for that of the camels, which 
are aU very fond of salt. We traversed Dabsoun-Noor throughout its 
breadth from east to west, and we had to take the utmost precau- 
tion as we proceeded over its loose, and at times almost moving, 
soil. The Tartars recommended us not to deviate in the least from 
the path we should find marked out, and by all means to avoid any 
places where we should see the water bubbling up, for there they 


informed us, were gulfs winch they had frequently endeavoured 
to sound, but without resrdt. This statement induced us to belieTS 
til at there is a noor, or lake, here, but that it is underground, the 
place called Dabsoun-Noor being merely the covering or roof of the 
lake, composed of the saline and saltpetrous matter produced by 
the constant evaporation of the subterranean waters. Foreign 
matter, brought by the wind, and consolidated by the rain, would 
in the lapse of time form a crust upon such a roof strong enough to 
bear the caravans that incessantly traverse Dabsoun-Noor. 

This great salt mine seems to jDervade with its influence the 
whole Ortous district, throughout whose extent the water is brack- 
ish, the soil arid, and the surface encnisted with saline matter. 
This absence of lich pasturage and fresh water is very adverse to 
the growth of cattle; but the camel, whose robust and hardy tem- 
perament adapts itself to the most sterile regions, affords compensa- 
tion to the Tartars of the Ortous. This animal, a perfect treasure 
to the dwellers in the desert, can remain a fortnight, or even a 
month, without eating or drinking. However wretched the land 
may be on which it is put to feed, it can always find wherewith to 
satisfy its hunger, especially if the soil be impregnated with salt or 
nitre. Things that no other animal will touch, to it are welcome ; 
briars and thorns, diy wood itself, supply it with efficient food. 

Though it costs so little to keep, the camel is of an utility 
inconceivable to those who are not acquainted with the countries 
in which Providence has placed it. Its ordinary load is from 700 
to 800 lbs., and it can carry this load ten leagues a day. Those, 
indeed, which are employed to carry dispatches, are expected to 
travel eighty leagues per diem, but then they only carry the dis- 
patch bearer. In several countries of Tartary the carriages of the 
kings and princes are drawn by camels, and sometimes they are 
harnessed to palanquins ; but this can only be done in the level 
country. The fleshy nature of their feet does not permit them to 
climb mountains, when they have a caiTiage or litter of any sort to 
draw after them. 

The training of the young camel is a business requiring great 
care and attention. For the first week of its life it can neither 
stand nor suck without some helping hand. Its long neck is then 
of such excessive flexibility and fragility, that it nms the risk of 
dislocating it, unless some one is at hand to sustain the head while 
it sucks the teats of its dam. 

The camel, born to servitude, seems impressed from its birth, 
with a sense of the yoke it is destined to bear through life. You 
never see the young camel playing and frolicking about, as you see 
kids, colts, and other young animals. It is always grave, melan- 


choly, and slow in its movements, which it never hastens, unless 
under compulsion. In the night, and often in the day also, it sends 
forth a mournful cry, like that of an infant in pain. It seems to 
feel that joy or recreation are not within its portion ; that its inevi- 
table career is forced labour and long fastings, until death shall 
relieve it. 

The maturation of the camel is a long affair. It cannot cany 
even a single rider, until its thii-d year; and it is not in full vigour 
until it is eight years old. Its trainers then begin to try it with 
loads, gradually heavier and heavier. If it can rise with its burden, 
this is a proof that it can caiTy it throughout the journey. "When 
that journey is only of brief duration, they sometimes load the 
animal in excess, and then they aid it to rise by means of bars and 
levers. The camel's capacity for labour endures for a long time. 
Provided that at certain periods of the year it is allowed a short 
holiday for pasturing at its leisui'e, it will continue its service for 
fidly fifty years, 

Natm-e has provided the camel with no means of defence against 
other animals, unless you may so consider its piercing, prolonged 
cry, and its huge, shapeless, ugly frame, which resembles, at a 
distance, a heap of ruins. It seldom kicks, and when it does, it 
almost as seldom inflicts any injury. Its soft, fleshy foot cannot 
wound, or even bruise you ; neither can the camel bite an antago- 
nist. In fact, its only practical means of defence against man or 
beast is a sort of vehement sneeze, wherewith it discharges, fi-om 
nose and mouth, a mass of filth against the object which it seeks to 
intimidate or to annoy. 

Yet the entire male camels, bore as the Tartars call them, 
{temen being the generic appellation of the animal), are very for- 
midable during the twelfth moon, which is their nitting time. At 
this period, their eyes are inflamed; an oily, fetid humour exhales 
trom their heads; their mouths are constantly foaming; and they 
eat and drink absolutely notliing whatever. In this state of excite- 
ment they iTish at whatever presents itself, man or beast, with a 
fierceness of precipitation which it is impossible to avoid or to resist; 
and when they have overthrown the object they have pursued, thay 
pound it beneath the weight of their bodies. The epoch passed, 
the camel resumes its ordinaiy gentleness, and the routine of its 
laborious career. 

The females do not produce young until their sixth or seventh 
year; the period of gestation is fomleen months. The Tartai'S geld 
most of their male camels, which, by this operation, acquire a 
greater development of strength, height, and size. Their voices 
become at the same time thinner and lower, in some instances 


wholly lost ; and the hair is shorter and finer than that of the entire 

The awkward aspect of the camel, the excessive stench of its 
hreath, its heavy, ungraceful movements, its projecting hare-lips, 
the callosities which disfigui'e various parts of its body, all contri- 
bute to render its appearance repulsive ; yet its extreme gentleness 
and docility, and the services it renders to man, render it of pre- 
eminent utility, and make us forget its deformity. 

Notwithstanding the apparent softness of its feet, the camel can 
walk upon the most rugged ground, upon sharp flints, or thorns, 
or roots of trees, without wounding itself. Yet, if too long a jour- 
ney is continuously imposed upon it, if after a certain march you 
do not give it a few days' rest, the outer skin wears off, the flesh is 
bared, and the blood flows. Under such distressing circumstances, 
the Tartars make sheep-skin shoes for it, but this assistance is 
unavailing without rest; for if you attempt to compel the camel 
to proceed, it lies down, and you are compelled either to remain 
with or to abandon it. 

There is nothing which the camel so dreads as wet, marshy 
ground. The instant it places its feet upon anything like mud, it 
slips and slides, and, generally, after staggering about like a 
drunken man, falls heaAaly on its sides. 

When about to repose, it kneels down, folds its fore legs sym- 
metrically under its body, and stretches out its long neck before it 
on the ground. In this position, it looks just like a monstrous 

Eveiy year, towards the close of spring, the camel sheds its hair, 
every individual bristle of which disappears before a single sprout of 
the new stock comes up. For twenty days the animal remains com- 
pletely bare, as though it had been closely shaved all over, from 
the top of the head to the extremity of the tail. At this juncture, it 
is excessively sensitive to cold or wet; and you see it, at the slightest 
chillness in the air or the least drop of rain, shivering and shaking 
in every limb, like a man without clothes exposed on the snow. 
By degrees the new hair shows itself, in the form of fine, soft, 
curling wool, which gi'adually becomes a long, thick fur, capable of 
resisting the extremest inclemency of the weather. The great- 
est delight of the animal is to walk in the teeth of the north wind, 
or to stand motionless on the summit of a hill, beaten by the storm 
and inhaling the icy wind. Some naturalists say that the camel 
cannot exist in cold countries; these writers must have wholly 
forgotten the Tartarian camels, which, on the contrary, cannot 
endiu-e the least heat, and which certainly could not exist in 


The hair of an ordinary camel weighs about ten pounds. It is 
sometimes finer than silk, and always longer than sheep's wool. 
The hair growing below the neck and on the legs of the entire 
camels is rough, bushy, and in colour black, whereas that of the 
ordinary camel is red, gi'ey, and white. The Tartars make no sort 
of use of it. In the places where the animals pasture, you see 
great sheets of it, looking like dirty rags, driven about by the wind, 
until they are collected in sheltered corners, in the hill sides. The 
utmost use the Tartars make of it is to twist some of it into cord, 
or into a sort of canvas, of which they construct sacks and carpets. 

The milk of the camel is excellent, and supplies large quantities^ 
of butter and cheese. The flesh is hard, unsavoury, and little 
esteemed by the Tartars. They use the hump, however, which, 
cut into slices, and dissolved in tea, serves the purpose of butter. 
It is known that Heliogabalus had camel's flesh served up at his 
banquets, and that he was very fond of camel's feet. We cannot 
speak as to the latter dish, which the Roman Emperor piqued 
himself upon having invented, but we can distinctly aflirm that 
camel's flesh is detestable. 



Purchase of a Sheep — A Mongol 'Butcher — ^<3rreat Feast à la Tariare^-TartET 
Veterinary Surgeons — Strange Cure of a Cow — Depth of the Wells of the 
Ortous — Manner of Watering the Animals — Encampment at the Hundred 
Weils — Meeting with the King of tlie Alechan — Annual Embassies of the 
Tartar Sovereigns to Peking — Grand Ceremony in the Temple of the Ancestors 
— The Emperor gives Counterfeit Money to the Mongol Kings — Inspecticm of 
©ur Geographical Map — The Devil's Cistern — Purification of the Water — A 
Lame Dog — Curious Aspect of -the Mountains — Passage .of the Yellow River, 

The environs of the Dabsoun-Noor abound in flocTis of goats and 
sheep. These animals hke to browse on the furze and thorny 
bushes, the sole vegetation of these barren steppes ; they especially 
delight in those nitrous efflorescences whic^h are found here on all 
sides in the utmost abundance. The soil, miserable as it is in other 
respects, seems very favourable to the growth of these animals, 
which enter largely into the consumption of the Tartars, constituting 
indeed the basis of their food. If bought on the spot, they are of very 
moderate price. As we calculated that a pound of meat woidd cost us 
less than a pound of flour, we resolved, as a matter of economy, to buy 
a sheep. The thing was not difficult to find ; but as it would of 


oj3urse oblige us io stop, at least for a day, we waited till we shoTild 
come to some jilace, not quite barren, and where our animals could 
find some pasturage to browse upon. 

Two days after crossing Dabsoun-Noor, we entered a long nar- 
row valley, where some Mongol families had stationed themselves, 
'.rhe earth was covered with a close herb, which, in form and cha- 
racter, liad much resemblance to thyme. Our beasts, as they pro- 
reeded, browsed fuitively, right and left, on this plant, and seemed 
U) be very fond of it This new pastiu'age gave us the idea of encami> 
ing on the spot. Not far from a tent, a Lama was sitting on a 
hillock, making ropes with camel's hair. " Brother," said we as 
we approached him, " the flock upon that hill doubtless belongs to 
you. Will you sell us a sheep?" "Certainly," he answered, "I 
will let you have an excellent «heep ; as to the price, we shall not 
quarrel about that. We men of prayer are not like merchants."' 
He indicated to us a spat near his own tent, and unloaded our 
?;>easts. The entire family of the Lama, when they heard the cries 
rif our camels, hastened to assist us to encamp. We, indeed, were 
not allowed to do anything to it ; for our new friends took delight 
m making themselves useful, in unsaddling the beasts, pitching 
the tent, and putting oiu- baggage in order within. 

The young Lama, who had received us with so much kindness, 
after having unsaddled the horse and the mule, perceived that 
both these beasts were hurt a little on the back. " Brothers," he 
said, " here is a bad business; and as you are upon a long joiuniey, 
it must be remedied, or you will nx)t be able to go on." So say- 
ing, he took the knife, which hung from his girdle, shai-pened it 
with rapidity upon his boot-tops, took our saddles to pieces, exa- 
mined the rough parts of the wood, and pared them away on both 
sides till he had removed the slightest unevenness. He then put 
together again, with wonderful skill, all the pieces of the saddles, 
and retmned them to us. " That will do," said he ; " now you may 
ti'avel in peace." This operation was effected rapidly and in the 
readiest manner possible. The Lama was then about to fetch the 
sheep ; but as it was ah-eady late, we said it was urinecessary, for 
that we should remain a whole day in his valley. 

Next morning, before w^ were awake, the Lama opened the 
«ioor of our tent, laughing so loud that he aroused us. " Ah,** 
said he, " I see plainly that you do not intend to depart to-day. 
The sun is abeady veiy high, and you sleep still." We rose quickly, 
and as «oon as we were dressed, the Lama spok<3 of the sheep. 
" Come to the flock," he said ; '.' you may choose at your pleasure." 
" No, go by youi'self, and select a sheep for us yourself. At j)resent 
we have an occupation. With us, Lamas of the Westei-n sky, it is 


a rule to pray as soon as we rise." "Oh, what a fine thing!" 
said the Lama; " oh, the holy rules of the West !" His admiration, 
however, did not make him forget his little affair of business. He 
mounted his horse and rode towards a flock of sheep which we saw 
undulating upon the slope of a hill. 

We had not yet finished our prayers when we heard the Tartar 
returning at full gallop. He had fastened the sheep to the back of 
his saddle, like a portmanteau. Hardly arrived at the door of our 
tent, he dismounted ; and in the twinkling of an eye he had jDut 
upon its four legs the poor sheep, quite astounded at the ride it 
had been favoured with. " That is the sheep ; is it not fine ? Does 
it suit you ? " " Admirably. What is the price ? " " One ounce ; 
is that too much ? " Considering the size of the animal, we thought 
the price moderate. " You ask an ounce ; here is an ingot, which 
is just of the weight you require. Sit down for a moment; we will 
fetch our scales, and you shall ascertain whether this piece of 
silver really weighs an ounce." At these words the Lama drew 
back, and cried, stretching out both hands towards us : " Above 
there is a heaven, below there is the earth, and Buddha is the 
lord of all things. He wills that, men behave towards each other 
like brothers; you are of the West, I am of the East. Is that any 
reason why the intercourse between us should not be frank and 
honourable ? You have not cheapened my sheep : I take your 
money without weighing it." " An excellent principle," said we. 
" As you will not weigh the money, pray sit, nevertheless, for a 
moment ; we will take a cup of tea together and talk over a little 
matter." " I know what you mean ; neither you nor I may cause 
the transmigration of this living being. We must find a layman 
who knows how to kill sheep. Is it not so ? " and without awaiting 
an answer, he added, "another thing; from your aj)pearance, one 
may easily guess that you are no great hands at cutting up sheep 
and prej^aring them." "You aie not mistaken," we answered, 
laughing. " Well, keep the sheep tied to your tent ; and for the rest, 
rely upon me ; I shall be back in a minute." He mounted his 
horse, went off at full gallop and disappeared in a bend of the vale. 

According to his promise, the Lama soon returned. He went 
straight to his tent, tied his horse to a post, took off his saddle, 
bridle and halter, gave it a cut with his whip, and so sent it off to 
pasture. He went into his tent for a little while, and then ap- 
peared with all the members of his family, that is to say, his old 
mother and two younger brothers. They advanced slowly towards 
our tent, in truly ridiculous fashion, just as if they were going to 
remove all their furniture. The Lama carried on his head a large 
pot, which covered him as with an enormous hat. His mother had 


on her back a large basket, filled with argols. The two young 
Mongols followed with a trivet, an h'on s^ioon, and several other 
minor kitchen implements. At this sight, Samdadchiemba was full 
of joy, for he saw before Mm a whole day of poetry. 

When the entire batterie de cuisine was arranged in open air, 
the Lama invited us, in his politeness, to go and repose in om* tent 
for awhile. He judged from our air, that we could not, without de- 
rogation, be jiresent at the approaching scene of butchering. The 
suggestion, how^ever, did not meet our views, and we requested that 
if we could do so without inconveniencing them, we might sit down 
on the grass at a respectful distance, and with the promise that we 
would not touch anything. After some objections, perceiving that 
we were cmious to be spectators, they dispensed with the etiquette 
of the matter. 

The Lama seemed anxious; he kept looking towards the north 
of the valley, as if expecting some one. '' All right," he said at 
last, with an ah- of satisfaction, " here he comes." " Who comes? 
Of whom do you speak?" " I forgot to tell you that I had been 
just now to invite a layman to come, who is very skilful in killing 
a sheep. There he is." We rose and perceived, indeed, something 
movhig among the heath of the valley. At first we could not 
clearly distinguish what it was, for though it advanced with some 
rapidity, the object did not seem to enlai-ge. At last the most sin- 
gular person we had ever met with in our lives presented himself to 
our view. We were obliged to make the utmost efforts to repress 
the strong impulse to laughter that cam.e upon us. This layman 
seemed to be about fifty years old, but his height did not exceed 
three feet. On the top of his head, which terminated like a sugar- 
loaf, rose a small tuft of badly combed haii-; a grey, thin beard 
descended in disorder down his chin. Finally, two prominences, 
one on his back, the other on his breast, communicated to this little 
butcher a perfect resemblance with Jisop, as he appears in valions 
editions of the '' Fables de la Fontaine." 

The strong sonorous voice of the layman was in singular con- 
trast with the exiguity of his thin, stunted frame. He did not lose 
much time in saluting the company. After having darted his small 
black eyes at the slieep, which was tied to one of the nails of our 
tent, he said: " Is this the beast you wish to have put in order?" 
And while feeling its tail in order to judge its fat, he gave it a turn, 
and placed it on its back with remarkable dexterity. He next tied 
together its legs ; then, while uncovering his right arm by throwing 
back the sleeve of his leathern coat, he asked whether the operation 
was to be effected in the tent or outside? " Outside," said we. 
" Outside, very well, outside;" so saving, he drew from a leathern 


sheatli, suspended from his sash, a knife with a large handle, hut 
whose hlade hy long use had hecome thin and narrow. After 
haTing examined for a moment its point with his thumh, he plunged 
it to the hilt into the side of the sheep, and drawing it out quite 
red, the sheep was dead, dead at once, without making any move- 
ment; not a single drop of hlood had spouted from the wound. 
We were greatly astonished at this,, and asked the httle man how 
he managed to kill a sheep so very easily and quickly» " We 
Tartars," he said, " do not kill in the same way as the Kitat; they 
cut the throat, we go straight to the heart. By our method, the 
animal suffers less, and all the blood is, as it should he, retained in 
the interior." 

The transmigration once operated, nobody had any fiu-ther 
scruples. Our Dchiahour and the Tartar Lama turned back their 
sleeves, and advanced to assist the little butcher. The sheep was 
skinned with admirable celerity. Meantime the mother of the 
Lama had made the two pots boil. She now took the entrails of 
the sheep, washed them pretty clean, and then, with the blood 
which she took from the interior of the sheep by means of a large 
wooden spoon, prepared some puddings, the basis of which was 
the never-failing oatmeal. " Sirs Lamas," said the little layman, 
" shall I bone the sheep ?" Upon our answering in the affirmative, 
he had the animal hooked upon the tent, for he was not big enough 
to perform that operation himself; he then mounted upon a large 
stone, and passing his knife rapidly along the bones, he detached, 
in one piece, all the meat, so as to leave dangling from the tent a 
mere skeleton, clean, cleared, and nicely polished. 

While the little layman was, according to his expression, putting 
in order the flesh of the sheep, the rest of the company had pre- 
pared a gala in the Tartar fashion. The young Lama was director 
of the feast. " Now," he cried, " let us all sit round; the great 
pot is going to be emptied." Forthwith eveiyone sat down upon 
the turf. The old Mongol woman plunged both hands into the pot, 
which was boiling over, and drew out all the intestines — the liver, 
the heart, the kidneys, the spleen, and the bowels, stuffed with 
blood and oatmeal. In this gastronomical preparation, the most 
remarkable thing was, that all the intestines had been retained in 
their integrity, so that they presented themselves much as they are 
seen in the living beast. The old woman served up, or rather 
threw this splendid dish upon the lawn, which was at once our 
chair, table, plate, and, in case of need, our napkin. It is unneces- 
sary to add, that we used om' fingers instead of forks. Eveiyone 
seized with his hands a portion of the bowels, twisted it from the 
mass, and devoured it without seasoning or salt. 


The two French missionaries were not able, despite thek utmost 
willingness, to do honour to this Tartar dish. Fii'st we burned our 
fingers when we tried to toucii the hot and smoking repast. Al- 
though our guests urged that it ought not to be ahowed to grow 
cold, we waited a little, afraid of burning our lips also. At last 
we tasted these puddings of sheep's blood and oatmeal, but after 
getting down a few mouthsfiil, we were quite satisfied. Never, 
perhaps, had we eaten anything so utterly tasteless and insipid. 
Samdadchiemba, having foreseen this, had withdra^vn from the 
common dish, the liver and the kidneys, which he j)laced before us, 
with some salt, which he had previously crushed between two 
stones. We were thus enabled to keep pace with the company, 
who, with a devouring ap2>etite, were swallowing the vast system 
of enti-ails. 

When the whole had disappeared, the old woman brought up 
the second service, by placing in the midst of us the lai'ge pot in 
which the puddings had been cooked. Instantly all the members 
of the banquet invited each other, and every one taking fi-om his 
bosom his wooden porringer, ladled out bumpers of a smoking, 
salt liquid, which they dignified with the pompous name of sauce. 
As we did not wish to appear eccentric, or as if we despised the 
Tartar cuisine, we did like the rest. We f)lunged our porringer into 
the pot, but it was only by the most laudable efi'orts that we could 
get down this gi-een stufi', which gave us the idea of half masticated 
grass. The Tartars, on the contiary, found it delicious, and readily 
reached the bottom of the extempore tureen, not stopping for a 
moment, till nothing was left — not a drop of sauce, not an inch of 

When the feast was finished, the little layman took leave, 
receiving as liis fee the four feet of the sheep. To this fee, fixed 
by the old custom of the Mongols, we added, as a supplement, 
a handful of tea leaves, for we desired that he should long remem- 
ber and talk to his countrymen of the generosity of the Lamas of 
the Western sky 

Every one having now thoroughly regaled, our neighbours took 
their kitchen utensils and returned home, except the young Lama, 
who said he would not leave us alone. After much talk about the 
east and the west, he took down the skeleton, which was still hanging 
at the entrance of the tent, and amused liimself with reciting, or 
rather singing, the nomenclature of all the bones, large and small, 
that compose the frame of the sheep. He perceived that om* know- 
ledge on this subject was very limited, and this extremely astonished 
him; and we had the greatest trouble to make him understand, 
that in our countiy ecclesiastical studies had for their object more 


serious and important matters than the names and number of the 
bones of a sheep. 

Every Mongol knows the number, the name, and the position 
of the bones which compose the frame of animals ; and thus they 
never break the bones when they are cutting up an ox or a sheep. 
With the point of their large knife they go straight and at once to 
the juncture of the bones and separate them with astonishing skill 
and celerity. These frequent dissections, and especially,the habit of 
being every day amongst then flocks, make the Tartars well acquainted 
with the diseases of animals, and skilful in then- cm'e. The remedies, 
which they employ internally, are always simples gathered in the 
prairie, and the decoction of which they make the sick animals 
chink. For this purpose, they use a large cow-horn. When they 
have contrived to insert the small end of this into the mouth of the 
animal, they pom* the physic in at the other extremity, as through 
a funnel. If the beast persists in not opening its mouth, the liquid 
is administered through the nostrils. Sometimes the Tartars em- 
ploy a lavement in their treatment of the diseases of animals ; but 
their instruments are still of primitive simplicity. A cow's horn 
serves for the pipe, and the pinnp is a great bladder, worked by 
squeezing it. 

Internal remedies, however, are not very often applied; the 
Tartars make more frequent use of punctures and incisions in 
different parts of the body. Some of these operations are extremely 
ludicrous. One day, when we had pitched om' tent beside a Mongol 
dwelling, a Tartar brought to the chief of the family a cow, which, 
he said, would not eat, and which was pining away day by day. 
The chief examined the animal, opened its mouth, and rubbed its 
fore teeth with his naO. " Fool, blockhead," said he to the man 
who had come to ask his advice, "why did not you come before? 
Your cow is on the verge of death ; there is scarce a day's life more 
in her. Yet, there may be tried one means : I will attempt it. If 
your cow dies, you will say it is your own fault ; if it recovers, you 
wiU regard it as a great favour from Hormousdlia, operated by my 
skill." He called some of his slaves, and ordered them to keep a 
tirm hold of the beast, while he was operating upon it. Then he 
entered his tent, whence he soon returned, armed with a nail and a 
great hammer. We waited with impatience this strange chirm'gical 
operation, which was to be performed with a nail and a hammer. 
While several Mongols held the cow, in order to prevent its running 
away, the operator placed the nail under its belly, and then di'ove 
it in up to the head with a^ violent stroke of the hammer. Next, he 
seized with both hands the tail of the cow, and ordered those who 
were holding it to let go. Instantly, the animal that had been so very 


singularly operated upon, dashed off, dragging after it the veterinary 
Tartar, clinging to its tail. In tliis fashion, they ran nearly a li. 
The Tartar then quitted his victim, and came quietly back to us, 
who were quite amazed at this new method of curing cows. He 
declared there was no further danger for the beast; for he had 
ascertained, he said, by the stiffness of the tail, the good eflect of 
the feiTuginous medicine he had administered. 

The Tartar veterinarians sometimes perform their operations at 
the belly, as we have just seen ; but it is more generally, with the 
head, ears, temple,- upper lip,, and about the eyes that they deal. 
The latter operation is principally had recourse to, in the disease 
which the Tartars call Hen's dung, to which mules are gTeatly 
subject. When this disease breaks out, the animals leave off eating, 
and fall into extreme weakness, so that they can hardly keep 
themselves on their legs; fleshy excrescences, similar to the excre- 
ments of poultry, grow under the lids, in the corners of the eyes. 
If these excrescences are I'emovedin time, the mules are saved, and 
recover by degi'ees their original vigour; if not,, they pine for a few 
days, and then die. 

Although cupping and bleeding have great place in the vete- 
rinary art of the Tartars, you must not suppose that they have at 
their disposal fine collections of instruments, such as those of 
Euroj)ean operators. Most of them have nothing but then- ordi- 
nary knife, or the smaU iron awl, which they keep in their girdle, 
and which they use daily to clear their, pipes, and mend their 
saddles and leathern boots. 

The young Lama who had sold us the sheep, spent a gi'eat part 
of the day in telling us anecdotes, more or less piquant and curious, 
about the veterinary science in which he seemed to be very skilful. 
Moreover, he gave us important instructions concerning the road 
we had to pursue. He settled the stages we ought to make., and 
indicated the places where we should enca,mp, so as to prevent omt 
dying from thirst.. We bad still before us in. the country of the 
Ortous, a journey of about fourteen days ;. in all that time we should 
find neither rivulet, nor spring,, nor cistern.; but only, at certain 
distances, wells of an extraordinary depth ; some of them distant 
from each other two days' march, so that we should have to carry 
with us our provision of water. 

Next morning, after having paid ovu* respects to the Tartar 
family, who had shown us so much kindness, we proceeded on our 
way. Towards evening, when it was nearly time to pitch our tent, 
we perceived in the distance a large {issemblage of various herds. 
Thinking that one of the indicated wells lay probably there, we 
bent our steps in, the direction, and. soon found that we were 


correct in our anticipatior ; the water was before us. The beasts 
were collected from every quarter, waiting to be watered. We 
halted accordingly, and set up our encampment. As we gazed 
upon the assembled flocks, and the well, the covering of which was 
a large stone, we recalled with pleasure the passage of Genesis, 
which relates the journey of Jacob in Mesopotamia, to Laban, son 
of Bathuel the Syrian. 

" Then Jacob went on his journey, and came into the land of 
the people of the east. 

"And he looked, and behold a well in the field, and, lo, there 
were three flocks of sheep lying by it; for out of that well they 
watered the flocks : and a great stone was upon the well's mouth. 

" And thither were all the flocks gathered : and they rolled the 
stone fi-om the well's mouth, and watered the sheep, and put the 
stone again upon the well's mouth in its place." ^ 

The wooden troughs placed around the well, reminded us of the 
other passage, where the meeting of Eebecca with the servant of 
Abraham is related. 

" And when she had done giving him drink, she said, I will 
draw water for thy camels also, until they have done drinking. 

" And she hasted, and emptied her pitcher into the trough, 
and ran again unto the well to draw water, and drew for all his 
camels." ^ 

One cannot travel in Mongolia, amongst a pastoral and nomad 
population, without one's mind involuntarily going back to the 
time of the first patriarch, whose pastoral life had so close a relation 
with the manners and customs which we still find amongst the 
Mongol tribes. But how sad and painful do these coincidences 
become, when we reflect that these unfortunate people are still 
ignorant of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 

We had scarcely pitched our tent, and arranged our modest 
kitchen, when we saw several Tartar horsemen advancing at full 
gallop. They were coming to draw water and give it to the nume- 
rous flocks that had been long awaiting them. These animals, 
which had hitherto stood at a distance, seeing the shepherds 
approach, hastened to the spot, and soon all were grouped round 
the well, eager to quench their thirst. This large assemblage of 
animals, so numerous and so various, created an agitation, a tumult 
to which we were quite unused amid the silent solitude of the 
desert ; and it was perhaps on account of its novelty that this con- 
fusion was, to us, full of entertainment. It was amusing to see the 
lialf-tamed horses pushing and struggling to arrive first at the well ; 

1 Gen.xxix., 1— 3. 2 Gen. xxi v., 19, 20. 


then, instead of drinking in j^eace, biting, quarrelling, and even 
leaving the water in order to pursue each other on the plain. The 
scene was especially entertaining and picturesque, when an enor- 
mous camel came iforward, spreading alarm round the weU, and 
driving away the vulgar herd by its despotic presence. 

There were four Mongol shepherds ; while two of them, armed 
with a long rod, ran about tiying to effect a little order among 
the flocks, the two others drew the water in a manner which greatly 
excited our surprise. First, the utensil they used by way of pail, 
appeared to us very remarkable ; it was the entire skin of a goat, 
solidly fastened at the four feet, the only opening being at the neck. 
A hoop kept this orifice open; a long, strong rope of camel's hair 
was fastened at one end to the wooden handle that crossed the 
diameter of the orifice, and at the other end to the saddle of the 
horse ridden by one of the Tartars, who, when the skin was filled 
rode off", and thus hauled up the bucket to the edge of the well, 
where it was received by another man, who emptied its contents 
into the troughs. 

The well was of astonishing depth ; the rope used to raise the 
bucket seemed more than :200 feet long. Instead of running in a 
pulley, it went right over a large stone, in which a large gi'oove 
w^as already made by the constant fiiction. Although the drawing 
up of the water was performed with great activity, it was nearly 
dark before all the flock had been watered; we then brought our 
five animals to participate in the general banquet, and the Tartars 
had the complaisance to draw water also for us; otherwise, it is 
probable we should never have got it, but have been obliged to 
suffer thirst beside an abundant well. 

These Tartars did not seem contented, like those we had met with 
in the other parts of Mongolia; we saw they were very depressed at 
being obliged to spend their lives in such a banen country, where 
pasturage is so very scarce and water still rarer. They talked to us 
of the Mongol kingdoms through which we had passed, and where 
it was so easy, so agreeable indeed, to feed animals. " Oh, how 
happy are the inhabitants of these countries! " said they. "How 
fortunate were we, could we spend our days amidst those rich 

Before they returned to theh' dwelling, which lay behind a high 
moimtain, these Tartars told us that we ought to depart next 
morning before daybreak, for that we should not find any water 
until we came to the Hundred Wells, which was distant a himdred 
and fifty lis (fifteen leagues). 

Dawn had not yet appeared when we left. The country was, 
as before, sandy, barren, and dismal. About noon we halted, iu 


order to take a little food, and to make tea with tlie water we had 
brought with us on one of the camels. Night was setting in before 
we reached the Hundred Wells; our poor animals could hardly 
move for hunger and fatigue; yet, at all cost, we were obliged 
to reach the encampment. To remain where we were would have 
caused infinite wretchedness. At last we came to the wells, and 
without troubling ourselves to ascertain whether or no there were 
a hundred of them, as the Tartar name of the place imported, 
we hastened to pitch our tent. Happily the well was not so deep 
as that we had seen the night before. Oiu- first care was to draw 
some water for the horse and the mule ; but when we went to lead 
them to the trough, we did not find them near the tent, where they 
usually stood to be unsaddled. This misfortune occasioned us 
an alarm that made us forget the fatigues of the day. We had, 
it is true, no fear of robbeis, for in this respect no country is more 
safe than the Ortous; but we thought that our animals, thirsty 
as they were, had run away in search of water. They will go, 
meditated we, till they have found water; perhaps they will go 
without stopping to the frontiers of the Ortous to the very banks 
of the Yellow Eiver. 

The night was quite dark ; nevertheless, we thought it proper 
to go instantly in search of our horses, while Samdadchiemba was 
preparing supper. We wandered about for a long time in all 
directions without seeing anything; ever and anon we stojDped to 
listen vvhether we could distinguish the sound of the bells sus- 
pended from the horse's neck ; but our efforts were vain ; nothing 
interrupted the dead silence of the desert. We went on, without 
losing courage, still hoping to find animals so very necessary to us, 
and the loss of which would have placed us in such difficulties. 
Sometunes we fancied we heard in the distance the tinkling of the 
bells. Then we laid flat down, applying our ears to the earth, in 
order to catch more readily the shghtest noise that might occur; 
but it was all in vain ; our search was fruitless. 

The fear of losing our way in a dark night in a country, the 
bearings of which we had not been able to examine, made us think of 
retracing our steps. Judge of our consternation when, on turning 
round, we perceived, apparently in the place where we had pitched 
our tent, a large volume of flame and smoke rising. We did not 
doubt for an instant that Samdadchiemba also had set out in search of 
the animals, and that in his absence the tent had caught fire. Oh, 
how sad and discouiaging was that moment. In the middle of the 
desert, at two thousand lis' distance from oiu* Christendom, we con- 
templated without hope those flames consuming our tent, our sole 
shelter against the inclemency of the weather. " Alas ! " we said. 


"the tent is certainh' destroyed, and doubtless all tliat was in it 
has also become a prey to the flames." 

We mournfully directed our steps to the place of our encamp- 
ment. Though anxious to ascertain our misfortune, we advanced 
slowly, for we were, at the same time, afraid to approach the fearful 
spectacle, destructive of our plans, and plunging us into misery of 
every description. As we advanced, we heard loud cries ; at last 
we distinguished the voice of Samdadchiemba, apparently calling 
for assistance. Imagining that we could still save something from 
the conflagration, we hastened to the spot, calling out, at the pitch 
of our voices, that we were coming. When we at last arrived at 
tlie encampment, we stood for an instant quite stupified upon 
seeing Samdadchiemba quietly seated beside an immense fire, and 
drinking with the greatest satisfaction bumpers of tea. The tent 
was untouched, and all oiu- animals lying around it: there had 
been no conflagi-ation at all. The Dchiahour, having found the 
horse and the mule, had imagined that, having doubtless got to 
some distance, we should have a difficulty in finding our way back 
to the encampment, and therefore he had made a large fire to direct 
our steps, and sent forth vehement cries inviting us to return. 
AVe had so fully believed in the reality of our misfortune that, on 
beholding om- tent again, we seemed to pass at once from the 
extreme of misery to the height of happiness. 

As the night had already made considerable progi'ess, we 
hastened to eat, with excellent appetite, the soup that Samdad- 
chiemba had prepared, and then laid down upon our goatskins, 
where we enjoyed a profound sleep till daybreak. 

On getting up next morning a glance around the encampment 
diffused a sliudder of terror through all our limbs ; for we found 
ourselves surrounded on every side by deep .wells. We liad 
been, indeed, told that we should not find water imtil we reached 
the place called Hundred Wells, but we had never imagined, 
that this denomination. Hundred Wells, was to be taken literally. 
When we had pitched our tent the night before, it was too dark for 
us to remark the presence of these numerous precipices, and ac- 
cordingly we had taken no precautions. When we went out in 
search of our stray animals we had, without knowing it, made 
a thousand turnings and windings amongst these deep pits ; and 
that we had thus walked in a dark night, witliout any accident, 
could only be attributed to a special protection of Providence. 
Before our departure, therefore, we planted a small wooden cross 
on the brink of one of these wells, as a sign of our thankfulness for 
the goodness of God. 

After having made our usual breakfast, we proceeded. Towards 




iDIlF.D -nKI.IS. 

noon we perceived before us a great multitude issuing from a 
narrow defile, formed by two precipitous mountains. We were lost 
in conjecture as to what this numerous and imposing caiavan 
could be. Innumerable camels, laden with baggage, advanced in 
single file, one after the other, escorted on either side by a number 
of horsemen, who, in the distance, appeared to be richly attired. 
We slackened our pace, to obtain a nearer view of this caravan, 
which appeared to us a very strange affair. 

It was still a considerable distance off, when four horsemen, 
who formed a sort of vanguard, galloped on towards us. They 
were all foui' Mandarins, as we perceived from the blue button 
which surmounted their cap of ceremony. " Sirs llamas," they 
said, " peace be with you ! Towards what point of the earth do 
you direct your steps ?" " We are of the West, and it is to the West 


we are going. And you, brothers of Mongolia, wliither do you 
travel in so large a troop, and in such magnificent apparel?" 
*' We are from the kingdom of Alechan, and our king is making 
a jom-ney to Peking to prostrate himself at the feet of Him who 
dwells above the sky." After these few words the four horsemen 
rose somewhat in their saddles, saluted, and then returned to their 
position at the head of the caravan. 

We had thus encountered on his way the King of Alechan, 
repamng to Peking with his gorgeous retinue, to be present at the 
great meeting of the tributary princes, wdio, on the first day of the 
first moon, are bound to offer the compliments of the new year to the 
Emperor. Behind the vauguaixl came a j^alanquin earned by two 
splendid mules, harnessed, the one before, the other behind, to gilt 
shafts. The palanquin was square, plain, and by no means elegant; 
its roof was adorned with some silk fringe, and its four panels were 
decorated with some pictm-es of dragons, birds, and nosegays. The 
Tartar monarch was sitting, not upon a seat, but with his legs 
crossed, in tbe oriental fashion. He seemed to be about fifty years 
old ; and his full round features gave to his ]3hysiognoray a remai-k- 
able air of good nature. As he passed us, we ciied : " King of the 
Alechan, peace and happiness be on your way ! " " Men of 
prayer," he ansv/ered, " may you also be at peace," and he accom- 
panied these words with a friendly salute. An old white-bearded 
Lama, mounted upon a magnificent horse, led the fore mule of the 
palanquin ; he was considered the guide of the whole caravan. 
Generally, the gi'eat marches of the Tartars are under the guidance 
of the most venerable of the Lamas of the district; for these people 
are persuaded, that they have nothing to fear on then- way, so long 
as they have at their head, a representative of the divinity, or rather 
the divinity himself incarnate in the person of the Lama. 

A great number of horsemen, who suiTounded, as a guard of 
honour, the royal palanquin, made their horses curvet incessantly, 
and dash up and down, in and out, from one side to the other, with- 
out ever stopping in their rapid movements. Immediately behind 
the cai-riage of the king, came a white camel of extraordinary beauty 
and size ; a young Tartar, on foot, led it by a silken string. This 
camel was not laden. From the tip of each hump, which looked 
like two pp'amids, floated pieces of yellow taffeta. There was no 
doubt, that this magnificent animal was a present destined for 
the Chinese Emperor. The remainder of the troop consisted of 
numerous camels, caiTying the baggage, the boxes, tents, pots, the 
thousand and one utensils, that are always wanted in a country 
where no tavern is to be found. 

The caravan had passed on a long time, when meeting with a 


well, we resolved to pitch our teiit beside it. While we were 
making our tea, three Tartars, one decorated with the red, the 
other with the blue button, alighted at the entrance of our 
dwelling. They asked for news of the caravan of the King of the 
Alechans. We answered that we had met it a long time since, 
that it must already he at a considerable distance, and that it 
would doubtless arrive, before night, at the encampment of the 
Hundred Wells. " As it is so," they said, " we would rather remain 
here, than arrive by night at the Hundred Wells, at the risk of 
falling into some hole. To-morrow, by starting a little before day, 
vv^e shall reach the caravan." 

No sooner said than done : the Tartars forthwith unsaddled their 
horses, sent them off to seek their fortune in the desert, and with- 
out ceremony took their seat beside our fire. They were all Taitsi 
of the kingdom of the Alechan. One of these, he who wore the 
cap with the red button, was the king's minister; they all three 
belonged to the gieat caravan, but the day before, having started 
to visit a friend, a prince of the Ortous, they had been left behind 
by the main body. 

The minister of the King of Alechan had an open, frank cha- 
racter, and a very acute understanding ; he combined Mongol good 
nature with vivacious and elegant manners, which he had no 
doubt acquired in his frequent visits to Peking. He asked many 
questions about the country which the Tartars call the Western 
Heaven, and informed us, that every three years a great number 
of our countrymen, from the different western kingdoms, rendered 
their homage to the Emperor at Peking. 

It is needless to observe that, for the most part, the Tartars do 
not carry very far their geographical studies. The west means 
with them simply Thibet and some adjacent countries, whi(;h they 
hear mentioned by the Lamas, who have made the pilgiimage to 
Lha-Ssa. They firmly believe that beyond Thibet there is nothing ; 
there, say they, is the end of the world; be3^ond, there is merely a 
shoreless ocean. 

When we had satisfied all the inquiries of the red button, we 
addressed some to him about the country of the Alechan, and the 
journey to Peking. "■ Every third year all the sovereigns of the 
world," said he, "repair to Peking, for the feast of the new year. 
Princes who live near, are bound to go thither every year; those 
who live at the extremities of the earth, go every second or third 
year, according to the distance they have to travel." " What is 
your purpose in going every year to Peking ? " " We ourselves go 
as the retinue of our king; the king alone enjoys the happiness of 
prostrating himself in the presence of the Old Buddha (the Em- 


l^eror)." He entered then into long details about tlie ceremony of 
tlie first ^day of the year, and the relations between the Chinese 
Emjjeror and the tributaiy kings. 

The foreign sovereigns, under the dominating influence of tlie 
China empire, rejjair to Peking; first, as an act of obeisance and 
submission : secondly, to pay certain rents to the Emperor, whose 
vassals they consider themselves. These rents, which are decorated 
with the fine name of ofierings, are, in fact, imposts which no Tartar 
king w'ould venture to refuse the payment of. They consist in 
camels, in horses remarkable for their beauty, and which the 
Emperor sends to augment his immense herds in the Tchakar. 
Every Tartar prince is, besides, obliged to bring some of the rarer 
productions of his country ; deer, bear and goat venison ; aromatic 
plants, jDheasants, mushrooms, fish, &c. As they visit Peking in 
the depth of winter, all these eatables are frozen ; so that they bear, 
without danger of being spoiled, the trial of a long journey, and even 
remain good long after they have arrived at their destination. 

One of the Banners of the Tchakar is especially charged with 
sending to Peking, every year, an immense provision of pheasant's 
eggs. We asked the minister of the King of the Alechan, whether 
these pheasant's eggs were of a peculiar flavour, that they -were so 
highly appreciated by the court. " They are not destined to be 
eaten," he answered ; " the Old Buddha uses them for another 
purpose." " As they are not eaten, what are they used for ? " Tlie 
'i'artar seemed embarrassed, and blushed somewhat as he replied 
that these eggs were used to make a sort of varnish, which the 
women of the imperial harem used for the pm-^^ose of smoothing 
their hair, and which communicates to it, they say, a peculiar lustre 
and brilliancy. Europeans, perhaps, may consider this pomatum of 
pheasant's eggs, so highly esteemed at the Chinese court, very nasty 
and disgusting ; but beauty and ugliness, the ni(;e and the nasty, 
are, as everybody knows, altogether relative and conventional 
matters, upon which the various nations that inhabit this earth 
have ideas remotest from the uniform. 

These annual visits to the Emperor of China are very expensive 
and extremely troublesome to the Tartars of the plebeian class, 
who are overwhelmed with enforced labour, at the pleasure of their 
masters, and are bound to provide a certain number of camels and 
horses, to cany the baggage of the king and the nobles. As these 
journeys take place in the depth of \vinter, the animals find little 
food, especially when, after leaving the Land of Grass, they enter 
upon the districts cultivated by the Chinese ; and a great number 
of them, accordingly, die on the road. Hence, when the caravan 
returns, it is far from being in such good order and condition as w^hen 


it started ; it presents, one might almost say, merely the skeletons of 
the animals. Those which have still retained a little strength are 
laden with the baggage necessary on the way; the others are 
dragged along by the halter, scarcely able to move one leg before 
the other. It is a very sad, and, at the same time, singular thing, 
to see the Mongols walking on foot, and leading behind them horses 
which they dare not mount for fear of breaking them down. 

As soon as the tributary kings are amved at Peking, they re- 
pair to the interior of the city, where they inhabit a quarter espe- 
cially set apart for them. They are generally two hundred in num- 
ber, each of whom has bis palace or inn, which he occupies, with 
his retinue. A Mandarin, a grand dignitary of the realm, super- 
intends this quarter, and has it in cliarge to maintain peace and 
concord amongst these illustrious visitors. The tributes are trans- 
ferred to the care of a special Mandarin, whom we may consider as 
steward of the household. 

Dm-ing their stay at Peking, these monarch s liave no commu- 
nication with the Emperor, no solemn audience. Some of them 
may perchance obtain admittance to the throne ; but it is only upon 
a,fFairs of the highest importance, above the jurisdiction of the 
ordinary ministers. 

On the first day of the year, however, there is a solemn cere- 
mony, at which these two hundred monarchs are admitted to a sort 
of contact with their suzerain and master, with him who, as they 
phrase it, sitting beneath the sky, rules the four seas and the ten 
thousand nations of tlie world by a single act of his will. Accord- 
ing to the ritual which regulates the state proceedings of the 
Emperor of China, he is bound to visit every year, on the first day 
of the first moon, the temple of his ancestors, and to prostrate him- 
self before the tablet of his fathers. There is before the entrance of 
this temple a long avenue, wherein the tributary princes, who have 
come to Peking to render homage to the Emperor, assemble. They 
range themselves right and left of tlie peristyle, in three lines, each 
occupying the place appertaining to his dignity. They stand eiect, 
grave, and silent. It is said to be a fine and imposing spectacle, 
to witness all tliese remote monarchs, attired in their silk robes, 
embroidered witli gold and silver, aud indicating, by the variety of 
then- costumes, the different countries they inhabit, and the degTees 
of their dignity. 

Meautirae the Emperor issues in great pomp from his Yellow 
Town. He traverses the deserted and silent streets of Peking; for, 
when the Asiatic tyrant appears, every door must be closed, and 
every inhabitant of the town must, on pain of death, i-emain silent 
within his house. As soon as tlie Emperor has arrived at the 

'iniBKr, AND CHINA. 



temple of the ancestors, the heralds, who precede the procession, 
cry out, at the moment he places his foot on the first step of the 
stairs that lead to the gallery of the tiihutary kings : " Let all 
prostrate themselves, for here is the Lord of the earth." To this 
the two hundred tributary kings respond in unison : " Ten thou- 
sand congi'atulations ! " And, having thus wished a happy new 
year to the Emperor, they all fall down with their face towards the 
earth. Then passes through their ranks, the son of heaven, who 
enters the temple of the ancestors, and prostrates himself, in his 
turn, thrice before the tablet of his fathers. Whilst the Emperor 
is offering up his adoration to the spirits of his family, the two 
hundred monarchs remain prostrate on the earth, and they do not 
rise until the Emperor has again passed through their ranks ; after 
this they re-enter their litters and return to their respective palaces. 
And such is the entire and sole fruit of the long patience of 
these potentates, after leaving their distant countries, and enduring 
fatigues and dangers of every description, and a long journey 
through the desert: they have enjoyed the happiness of prostrating 


themselves in the path of the Emperor ! Such a spectacle would 
with us Europeans be a matter of pity and disgust, for we could 
not comprehend how there should be so much humility on one 
side, so much arrogance on the other. Yet it is the simplest 
thing in the world to Asiatic nations. The Emperor takes his 
all-mightiness as a gi'ave matter of course ; and the Tartar kings 
think themselves happy and honoured in paying homage to it. 

The prime minister of the king of the Alechan told us that 
a sight of the Emperor is not easily obtained. One year, when 
his master was ill, he was obliged to take his place at Peking, in 
the ceremony of the temple of the ancestors, and he then hoped 
to see the Old Buddha, on his way down the peristyle, but he was 
altogether mistaken in his expectation. As minister, the mere re- 
presentative of his monarch, he was placed in the third file, so that, 
when the Emperor passed, he saw absolutely nothing at all. " Those 
who are in tlie first line," he said, " if they are cautiously dexterous, 
may manage to get a glimpse of the yellow robe of the son of 
heaven ; but th^ey must take heed not to lift up their heads, for such 
an audacity would be considered a great crime, and be j^i-^îiished 
very severely." 

All the Tartar princes are pensioned by the Emperor ; the sum 
allotted to them is a small matter, but it effects a considerable 
political result. The Tartar princes, in receiving their pay, con- 
sider themselves the slaves, or at least, as the servants of him who 
pays them ; and concede, in consequence, to the Emperor the right 
of requiring their submission and obedience. It is about the first 
day of the year that the tributary sovereigns receive, at Peking, the 
allotted pension, which is distributed by some of the great Man- 
darins, v/ho are said, by slanderous tongues, to speculate in this 
lucrative employment, and never fail to make enoimous profits at 
the expense of the poor Tartars. 

The minister of the king of the Alechan related, for our edi- 
fication, that in a particular year, all the tributary princes re- 
ceived their pension in ingots of gilt copper. All found it out at 
once, but were fain to keep silence, afraid to make public an affair 
that might result in a catastrophe, compromising, not only tlie 
highest dignitaries of the empire, but the Tartar kings themselves. 
As, in fact, the latter were supposed to receive their money from the 
hands of the Emperor himself, a complaint would, in some sort, 
have been to charge the Old Buddha, the son of heaven, with being 
a coiner. Tliey received accordingly their copper ingots with a 
prostration, and it was not until they returned into their own coun- 
tries, that they declared, not indeed that they had been cheated, but 
that the Mandarins, charged with distributing the money, had been 


the dupes of the Peking bankers. The Tartar Mandarin who re- 
lated the adventure, gave us completely to understand that neither 
the Emperor, nor the courtiers, nor the Mandarins, had anytliing to 
do with the afiaii'. "NVe took good care not to imdeceive him : as to 
us, who liad no gi'eat faith in the probity of the government of 
Peking, we were convinced that the Emperor had regularly swindled 
the I'artar kings. We were confirmed in this opinion by the fact 
that the period of this adventure coincided with the British war; 
when, as we knew, the Emperor was in the last extremity, and knew 
not Avhere to get the money necessary to keep fi'om starving the 
handful of soldiers who were charged with the preseiwation of the 
integiity of the Chinese territory. 

The visit of the three Mandarins of the Alechan was not only 
pleasant on account of the narrative they gave us of the relations 
of the Tartar kings with the Emperor, but it was of essential utility 
to us. When they understood that we were directing our steps 
towai'ds the West, they asked us whether we intended passing 
tlirough the district of the Alechan. On our answering in the 
affirmative, they dissuaded us from the project ; they told us that our 
animals would perish there, for not a single pasturage was to be 
met with. We already knew that the Alechan is a tract still more 
baiien than the Ortous. It consists, in fact, of chains of lofty moun- 
tains of sand, where you may travel sometimes for whole days 
together, without seeing a single blade of vegetation. Some naiTow 
valleys, here and there, alone offer to the flocks a few thorny and 
wi'etched plants. On this account the Alechan is very thinly in- 
habited, even in comparison with the other parts of Mongolia. 

The Mandarins told us that this year the drought which had 
been general throughout Tartary had rendered the district of the 
Alechan almost uninhabitable. They assiu'ed us that at least one- 
tliird of the flocks had perished of hunger and thirst, and that the 
remainder were in a wretched state. For their journey to Peking, 
they had, they said, chosen the best they could find in the country; 
and we might have observed that the animals of the caravan were 
very difierent indeed from those we had seen in Tchakar. The 
drought, the want of water and pastures, the destruction of the 
flocks — all this had given birth to an utter state of misery, 
whence, again, numerous bands of robbers who were ravaging the 
country, and robbing travellers. They assm-ed us that, being so 
few in number, it would not be wise for us to enter upon the 
Alechan mountains, particularly in the absence of the principal 

On receiving this infonnation, we resolved not to retrace our 
steps, for we were too far advanced, but to diverge a little from oui- 


route. The night was far advanced ere we thought of taking rest ; 
we had scarcely slej^t a few minutes, in fact, when the day broke. 
The Tartars saddled their steeds, and after having wished us peace 
and happiness, dashed off at full gallop, to overtake the great 
caravan which preceded them. 

As for us, before setting out, we unrolled the excellent map 
of the Chinese empire, published by M. Andriveau-Goujon, and 
sought upon it to what point we ought to direct our steps, so as to 
avoid the wretched district of the Alechan, without, however, de- 
viating too much from our route. After looking at the map, we 
saw no other way than to recross the Yellow River, to pass the 
Great Wall of China, and to travel across the Chinese province of 
Kan-Sou, until we arrived among the Tartars of the Koukou-Noor. 
Formerly this determination would have made us tremble. Accus- 
tomed as we had been to live privately in our Chinese Christendom, 
it would have seemed to us impossible to enter the Chinese empire 
alone, and without the care of a catechist. At that time it would 
have seemed to us clear as the day, that our strangulation, and 
the persecution of all the Chinese missions, would have been the 
certain result of our rash undertaking. Such would have been our 
fears formerly, but the time of our fear was gone. Indurated by 
our two months journey, we had come to the persuasion that we 
might travel in China with as much safety as in Tartar}»-. The 
stay that we had already made in several large commercial towns, 
compelled as we had been to manage our own affairs, had rendered 
the Chinese manners and customs more familiar to us. The lan- 
guage presented to us no difficulties ; besides being able to speak 
the Tartar idiom, we were familiar with the colloquial phrases of 
the Chinese, a very difficult attainment to those who reside in the 
missions, because the Christians there seek to flatter them by only 
employing, in the presence of the Missionaries, the short vocabulary 
of words that they have studied in books. Besides these purely 
moral and intellectual advantages, our long journey had been 
useful in a physical point of view ; the rain, the wind, and the sun, 
which had during two months raged against our European tint, 
had in the end embrowned and tanned it so, that we looked quite 
like wild men of the wood in this respect. The fear of being recog- 
nised by the Chinese now no longer troubled us. 

We told Samdadchiemba that we should cease, in a few days, 
to travel in the Land of Grass, and that we should continue our 
route through the Chinese empire. " Travel among the Chinese ! " 
said the Dchiahoui-; " veiy well. There are good inns there. 
They boil good tea there. When it rains, you can go under shelter. 
During the night, you are not disturbed by the blowing of the 


north wind. But in China, there are ten thousand roads ; which 
shall we take ? Do we know v/hich is the best?" We made him 
look at the map, pointing out all the places which we should have 
to pass before we reached Koukou-Noor. We even reduced, for his 
edification, into lis, all the distances fi-om one town to the other. 
Samdadchiemba looked at our small geogi-aphical chart with perfect 
enthusiasm. " Oh," said he, " how sincerely I regret that I did not 
study wliile I was in the Lamasery ; if I had listened to my master, 
if I had paid more attention, I might perhaps now understand the 
description of the world, that is here drawn on this ])iece of paper, 
With this, one can go everywhere, without asking the way. Is it 
not so?" "Yes, eveiywhere," answered we; "even to yom own 
family." " How is that? is my country also written down here ? " 
and as he spoke he bent over the chart, so as entirely to cover it 
with his huge frame. "Stand aside and we will show you your 
countiy. Look ; do you see this little space beside that gi-een line? 
That is the country of the Dchiahours, which the Chinese call the 
Three Valleys (San-Tchouen). Your village must be here ; we shall 
pass not more than two days' journey from your house." " Is it pos- 
sible?" cried he, striking his forehead; " shall we pass two days' 
journey fi-om my house? Do you say so ? How can that be ? Not 
more than two days' journey ? In that case, when we are near it, 
I wiU ask my spiritual fathers' permission to go and see once more 
my counti-y." "What can you have to do now in the Thi'ee Val- 
leys?" "I wiU go and see what is doing there. It is eighteen 
years since my departm-e Irom my house. I will go and see if my 
old mother is still there ; and if she is alive, I will make her enter 
into the Holy Chinch. As for my two brothers, who knows whe- 
ther they will have enough sense not to believe any longer in the 
transmigi-ations of Buddha. Ah, yes," added he after a short pause, 
" I will make a little tea, and we will talk this matter over again." 

Samdadchiemba was no longer with us; his thoughts had flown 
to his native land. We were obliged to remind him of his real 
position, — " Samdadchiemba, you need not make any tea; and just 
now, instead of talking, we must fold up our tent, load the camels, 
and proceed on our way. Look ; the sun is already high in the 
heavens : if we do not get on, we shall never reach the Three Val- 
leys." " True," cried he ; and springing up he set himself busily 
about making preparations for om- departuie. 

On resuming our route, we abandoned the direction towards the 
west, which we had strictly followed during our journey, and di- 
verged a Httle to the south. After having continued cur march for 
half the day, we sat down for a while under- a rock to take our 
rejjast. As usual, we dined on bread and water; and what bread 


and water ! Dough half baked, and brackish water, which we had 
to draw up with the sweat of our brow, and to carry about with us 
during our journey. 

Towards the conclusion of our repast, while we were trying to 
scrape together a few grains of tobacco in our snufF phials, by way 
of desert, we saw coming towards us a Tartar on a camel; li€ 
seated himself beside us. After ha^'ing wished each other peace, 
we let him smell at our empty snuff phial, and then offered him a 
little loaf baked in the ashes. In an instant he had swallowed the 
bread, and taken three sniffs of snufif. 

We questioned him about the route ; he told us that if we fol- 
lowed the same direction we should arrive in two days at the 
Yellow Eiver, on crossing which, we should enter the Chinese 
territory. This information gave us great satisfaction, for it per- 
fectly agreed with our map. We asked him if water was far 
off. "Yes," answered he, " the wells are distant. If you encamp 
again to-day, you will find a cistern on the way ; but there is little 
water, and that is very bad. Formerly it was an excellent well, 
but it is now abandoned, for a tchutgour (demon) has corrupted its 

This information induced us to proceed at once, for we had no 
time to lose, if we desired to anive before night. The Mongol 
mounted his camel, which bounded across the desert, while our 
little caravan continued slowly its uniform and monotonous march. 

Before sunset, we arrived at the indicated cistei-n, when we 
pitched our tent, as there was no hope of finding further on better 
water ; besides, we fancied the cistern might perhaps turn out less 
diabolical than the Tartar had pretended it to be. 

While we were lighting the fire, the Dchiahour went to draw 
water ; he returned in a few moments, saying that it was unfit to 
be drunk; that it was mere poison. He brought a basin full with 
him, that we might taste it and judge for ourselves. 

The stench of this dirty, muddy water was, indeed, intolerable ; 
and on the surface of the nauseous stuff, we saw floating a sort of 
oily drop, which infinitely increased our disgust. We had not the 
courage to raise it to our lips ; we were satisfied with its sight, and, 
above all, with its smell. 

Still we must either drink or die with thirst ; we accordingly 
resolved to make the best we could of this Cistern of the Devil, as 
it is called by the Tartars. We collected roots, which were growing 
abundantly around it, half buried in the sand; a few moments 
labour supphed us with an ample provision of them. Then, first 
of all, we made some charcoal which we broke into small pieces; 
next we filled our kettle with the muddy, stinking water, placed it 


upon the fire, and when the water boiled, threw in a quantity of 
the charcoal. 

While we were engaged upon this chemical operation, Sam- 
dadchiemba, seated beside the kettle, kept every moment asking 
us what sort of soup we intended to make with all those detestable 
ingi'edients. We gave him, by way of reply, a complete dissertation 
upon the discolouring and disinfecting properties of charcoal. He 
listened to oiu- scientific statement with patience, but appeared in 
no degree convinced by it. His eyes were fixed upon the kettle, 
and it was easy to see, from the sceptical expression of his features, 
tliat he had no sort of expectation or idea that the thick water 
bubbling in the kettle could at all become a clear and limpid fluid 

By-and-by, we poured out the liquid thus prepared, and filtered 
it through an imjiromptu liuen sieve. The water realised was not, 
indeed, delicious, but it was drinkable, having deposited all its salt 
and all its ill odour. We had moie than once, on our journey, used 
water in no degree superior. 

Samdadchiemba was perfectly intoxicated with enthusiasm. 
Had he not been a Christian, he would assuredly have taken us for 
living Buddhas. •' The Lamas," said he, " pretend they have all 
knowledge and all power in their prayer books; but I am certain 
they would have died of thirst, or been poisoned, had they only had 
the water of this cistern to make tea with. They have no more 
notion than a slieep how to render this bad water good." And then 
he overwhelmed us with all sorts of odd questions about the natural 
properties of things. In relation to the purification of water which 
we had just operated, he asked whether by rubbing his face hard 
with the charcoal, he could make it as white as ours; but then, 
when his eyes turned to his hands, still black with the charcoal he 
had just broken up, he himself laughed immensely at the idea he 
had propounded. 

Night had set in before we had completed the distillation of the 
water we required. We then made abundance of tea, and the 
evening was occupied in drinking it. We contented ourselves with 
infusing a few pinches of oatmeal in the tea, for the ardent thirst 
which devoured us absorbed all desh-e to eat. After having deluged 
our inward man, we sought repose. 

We had scarcely, however, stretched om^selves on the turf, when 
an extraordinary and altogether unexpected noise threw us into a 
state of stupor. It was a long, lugubrious, deep cry that seemed 
approaching our tent. We had heard the howl of wolves, the roar 
of tigers and of bears ; but these in no way resembled the sound 
which now afiiighted our ears. It was something like the bellow- 
ing of a buU, but crossed with tones so strange and unintelligible, 


that we were utterly paiiic-strickeu. And we were all the more 
surprised and confounded, because everybody had assured us 
that there were no wild beasts of any kind in the whole Ortous 

Our embarrassment was becoming serious. We were in fear 
not only for our animals, which were tied round the tent, but 
also on our own account. As the noise did not cease, but, on 
the contraiy, seemed to approach nearer and nearer, we got up, 
not, indeed, to go forth in search of the villainous beast that was 
thus disturbing our repose, but in order to try to frighten it. To 
this intent all three of us set to work, shouting at the pitch of our 
lungs ; then we stopped, and so did the beast. After a moment's 
silence, the roaring was heard once more, but at a considerable 
distance. We conjectured that in our turn we had frightened the 
animal, and this somewhat reassured us. 

The cries once more approaching, we piled up some brushwood 
at a few paces from the tent, and made a bonfire. The light, 
instead of deterring tlie unknown monster, seemed rather to attract 
it ; and before long, by the flame of the brushwood, we could dis- 
tinguish the outline of what appeared to be a great quadruped, of 
reddish hue, the aspect of which, however, as near as we could 
judge, was by no means so ferocious as its voice. We ventured to 
advance towards it, but as we advanced, it retreated. Samdadchi 
emba, whose eyes were very sharp, and accustomed to the desert, 
assured us that the creature was eithei a dog or a stray calf. 

Our animals were, at the very least, as absorbed with the 
subject as ourselves. The horse and the mule pointed their ears, 
and dug up the earth with their hoofs, while the camels, with out 
stretched necks and glaring eyes, did not for an instant remove 
their gaze from the spot whence these wild cries issued. 

In order to ascertain precisely with what creature we had to do, 
we diluted a handful of meal in a wooden dish, and placing this 
at t]]e entrance of the tent, withdrew inside. Soon we saw the 
animal slowly advance, then stop, then advance again. At last it 
came to the dish, and with tlie most remarkable rapidity, lapped 
up the supper we had prepared for it. We now saw that it was a 
dog of immense size. After having thoroughly licked and polished 
the empty dish, it lay down, without ceremony, at the entrance of 
the tent; and we forthwith followed its example, glad to have 
found a protector in the apprehended foe. 

Next morning, upon awaking, we were able to examine at leisure 
the dog which, after having so alarmed us, had so unreservedly 
attached itself to us. Its colour was red, its size immense ; its ex- 
cessive meagi'eness showed that it had been wandering about home- 


less for some time past. A dislocated leg, which it dragged along 
the ground, communicated to it a sort of swinging motion, which 
added to its fonnidable effect. But it was especially alarming when 
it sent forth its loud, fierce voice. Whenever we heard it, we in- 
stinctively looked at the animal whence it proceeded, to see whether 
it really belonged to the canine race. 

We resumed om- route, and the new Arsalan accompanied us, 
its general position being a few paces in advance of the caravan, 
as though to show us the way, with which it appeared to be toler 
ably familiar. 

After two days' journey we reached the foot of a chain of 
mouu tains, the summits of which were lost in the clouds. We 
set about ascending them, however, coui-ageously, for we hoped 
that beyond them we should find the Yellow River. That day's 
jom-ney was very painful, especially to the camels, for every step 
was upon sharp, nigged rock ; and their feet, accordingly, were very 
speedily bleeding. We oui'selves, however, were too absorbed -«-ith 
the strange, fantastic aspect of the mountains we were traversing 
to think of the toil they occasioned us. 

In the hollows and chasms of the precipices formed by these 
lofty mountains, you see nothing but gi-eat heaps of mica and 
laminated stones, broken, bruised, and in some cases absolutely 
pulverised. This wreck of slate and schist must have been brought 
into these abysses by some deluge, for it in no way belongs to the 
mountains themselves, which ai'e of gi-anite. As you approach 
the summits, the mountains assume forms more and more fantastic. 
You see gi'eat heaps of rock piled one upon the other, and appa 
rently cemented together. These rocks are almost entirely en- 
crusted with shells and the remains of a plant resembling sea weed; 
but that which is most remarkable is that these gi'anitic masses are 
cut and torn and worn in every direction, presenting a ramification 
of holes and cavities, meandering in a thousand complicated turns 
and twists, so that you might imagine all the upper portion of each 
mountain to have been subjected to the slow and destructive action 
of immense worais. Sometimes in the granite you find deep im- 
pressions, that seem the moidds of monsters, whose forms they still 
closely retain. 

As we gazed upon all these phenomena, it seemed to us that we 
were travelling in the bed of some exhausted ocean. Everything 
tended to the belief that these mountains had undergone the gradual 
action of the sea. It is impossible to attribute all you see there 
to the influence of mere tain, or still less to tlie inundations of the 
Yellow River, which, however prodigious they may be, can never 
have attained so gi'eat an elevation The geologists who afiBrm 


that the deluge took place by sinking, and not by a depolarization of 
the earth, might probably find in these mountains good arguments 
in favour of their system. 

On reaching the crest of these mountains we saw beneath us 
the Yellow Eiver, rolling its waves majestically from south to 
north. It was now near noon, and we hoped that same evening to 
pass the river, and sleep in one of the inns of the little town of Che- 
Tsui-Dze, which we perceived on the slope of a hill beyond the river. 

We occupied the whole afternoon in descending the rugged 
mountain, selecting as we went, the places right and left that 
seemed more practicable than the rest. At length we arrived, and 
before nightfall, on the banks of the Yellow River, oui' passage across 
which was most successfully effected. In the first place, the Mongol 
Tartars who rented the ferry oppressed our purse less direfuUy than 
the Chinese ferrymen had done. Next, the animals got into the 
boat without any difficulty. The only giievance was that we had 
to leave our lame dog on the bank, for the Mongols would not 
admit it on any terms, insisting upon the rule that all dogs must 
swim across the river, the boat being destined solely for men, or 
for animals that cannot swim. We were fain to submit to the pre- 

On the other side of the Yellow River we found ourselves in 
China, and bade adieu for awhile to Tartary, to the desert, and to 
the nomadic life. 



Sketch of the Tartar Nations. 

The Tartars, descended from the ancient Scythians, have preserved 
to this day the dexterity of their ancestors in archery and horse- 
manship. The early part of their history is veiled in obscurity, 
enveloped as they are by the wonders and prodigies of the exploits of 
their fii'st conqueror, Okhous-Han, who seems to be the Madyes of 
Herodotus. This illustrious leader of the Scythian hordes carried 
his arms into Syria, and reached even the confines of Egypt. 

The Chinese annals frequently mention certain nomad tribes, 
which they call Hioung-Nou, and which are no other than the 
Huns. These wandering and warlike tribes gradually extended 
themselves, and finished by covering the immense deserts of 
Tartary from east to west. Thenceforward they made continual 
incursions on their neighbours, and on several occasions made 


attacks on the frontiers of the empire. It was on such an occasion 
that Thsin-Chi-Hoang-Ti had the Great Wall built in the year 
213 B. c. About 134 b. c. the Huns, under the conduct of Lao- 
Chan, their emperor, made an attack on the Tartars Youei-Tchi 
(the Getae), who dwelt on the confines of the province of Chen-Si. 
After a series of long, and terrible conflicts, Lao-Chan' defeated 
them, slew their chief,, and made of his head a drinking cup, which 
he wore suspended from his girdle. The Getse did not choose to 
submit to the victors, and preferred going elsewhere in search of 
another country. They divided into two principal' bands. One 
advanced towards the north-west, and took possession of the plains 
situated upon the banks of the river Hi, beyond the glaciers of the 
Moussour mountains ; this is that part of Tartary which is now 
called the Tourgout. The other division marched southwards, 
associated with it in its course several other tribes, and reached the 
regions watered by the Indus. Tliere it laid waste the kingdom 
founded by the successors of Alexander, strove for some time 
against the Parthians, and finished by establishing itself in Bac- 
triana. The Greeks called these Tartai- tribes Indo-Scythians. 

Meanwhile divisions arose among the Huns; and the Chinese, 
ever politic and cunning, took advantage of this circumstance to 
enfeeble them. Towards the year 48 of our era, the Tartar empire 
was divided into northern and southern. Under the dynasty of 
Han, the Northern Huns were completely defeated by the Chinese 
armies. They were obliged to abandon tlie regions wherein they 
had settled, and proceeded in large numbers towards the west, to 
the borders of the Caspian Sea; here they spread themselves over 
tlie countries watered by the Volga, and round the Palus Mseotis. 

They commenced in 376 their formidable irraptions upon the 
Eoman empire. They began by subduing the territory of tlie 
Alani, a nomad and pastoral people like themselves ; some of 
these sought refuge in the Circassian mountains, others migrated 
further west, and finally settled on the shores of the Danube. Later, 
they drove before them the Suevi, the Goths, the Gepidse, and the 
Vandals, and with these advanced to ravage Germany, in the be- 
ginning of the fifth century. These large hordes of barbarians 
resembling waves, one driven en by the other, thus formed, in their 
destiTictive course, afearlul torrent, which finally inundated Europe. 

The Southern Huns, who had remained in Tartary, were for a 
long, time weakened by the dispersion of their northern countrymen; 
but they- recovered by insensible degrees, and again became terrible 
to tlie Chinese : though they did not acquire a political and histori- 
cal importance till the time of the famous Tcliinggiskhan, towards 
the close of the twelfth century. 


The' power of the Tai'tars, long confined within the desert 
Eteppes of Mongolia, broke at length its hounds, and innumerable 
armies might be seen descending from tlie lofty table-lands of Cen- 
tral Asia, and precipitating themselves with fmy on horrified 
nations. Tchinggiskhan carried pillage and death even to the 
most remote regions. China, Tartary, India, Persia, S}Tia, ]\liis- 
covy, Poland, H ungaiy, Austria, — all these countries successively 
felt the terrible blows of the victorious Tartar. France, Italy, and 
the other regions furtlier west, escaped with their fear. 

In the year 1200 of our era, Khan-Khoubilai, grandson of 
Tchiuggis, who had commenced the conquest of China, succeeded 
in subduing that vast empire. It was the first time that it had 
passed under the yoke of foreigners. Khoubilai died at Peking in 
the year 1294, aged eighty. His em])ire was, without dispute, the 
largest that had ever existed. Chinese geographers state that, 
under the jMongol dynasty of the Youen, the empire northwards 
went beyond the In-Chan mountains; westwards it extended be- 
yond the Gobi' or sandy desert; to the east, it was terminated by 
the countries situated on the left of the river Siao; and in the 
southern direction it reached the shores of the Youé Sea. It is 
obvious that this description does not include the countries tri- 
butary to the empire. Thibet, Turkestan, Muscovy, Siara, Cochin 
China, Tonking, and Corea, acknowledged the supremacy of the 
Grand Khan of the Tartai*s, and faithfiûly paid him tribute. Even 
European nations were, from time to time, insolently summoned to 
acknowledge the Mongol supremacy. Plaughty and threatening 
letters were sent to the Pope, to the King of France, to the Em- 
peror, commanding them to send as tribute the i-evenues of their 
states to the depths of Tartaiy. The descendants of Tchinggiskhan, 
who reigned in Muscovy, Persia, Bactriana, and Sogdiana, received 
investiture from the Emperor of Peking, and imdertook nothing of 
importance without first giving him notice. The diplomatic papers 
which the King of Persia sent, in the thirteenth century, to Philip 
the Fair, are a proof of this dépendance. On these jirecious monu- 
ments, which are preserved to this day in the archives of France, 
are seals in Chinese characters, which testify the supremacy of the 
Grand Khan of Peking over the sovereigns of Persia. 

The conquests of Tchinggiskhan and of his successors ; and, in 
later times, those of Tamerlan or Tiraour, which transferred the 
seat of the Mongol empire to Samarcand, contributed, in as great-,- 
and perhaps a greater degi-ee than the Crusades, to renew the inter- 
course of Europe with the most distant states of the East, and 
favoured the discoveries which have been so useful to the progress 
of the arts, of the sciences, and of navigation. 


On this subject, we will quote in this place, an interesting pas 
sage from the Memoirs which M. Abel Eemusat published in 1824, 
on the political relations of the Christian princes, and particularly 
of the Kings of France with the Mongol Emperors : — 

" The lieutenants of Tchinggiskhan, and of his first successoi^s, 
on arriving in Westei-n Asia, did not seek at first, to contract any 
alliance there. The princes, whose domains they entered, silently 
permitted the impost of a tribute ; the rest were I'equired to submit. 
The Georgians and Armenians were among the first. The Franks 
of Syria, the Kings of Hungary, the Emperor himself, had to repel 
their insolent demands. The Pope was not exempted, by the 
supremacy he enjoyed in relation to the other Christian princes ; 
nor the King of France, by the high renown he enjoyed throughout 
the East. The terror whicli the Tartars inspired, precluded a fit- 
ting answer to their demands. The course resorted to was concili- 
ation, the seeking their alliance, and the endeavouring to rouse 
them against the Moslems. The latter attempt would scarcely 
have been successful, had not the Christians in the East, who, by 
adhesion as vassals, had obtained credit at the courts of their 
generals and their princes, zealously employed themselves in the 
matter. The Mongols were induced at last to undertake war 
against the Sultan of Egypt. Such were the relations with this 
nation during the first period, which lasted from 1224 to 1262. 

''In the second period, the Khalifat was destroyed ; a Mongol 
principality was founded in Persia : it bordered on the states of the 
Sultan of Egypt. A sanguinaiy rivalry arose between the two 
countries, which the Eastern Christians did all in their power to 
irritate. The Mongol empire was divided. Those of Persia had 
need of auxiliaries, which their Armenian vassals procured for 
them : these auxiliaries were the Franks. From this time, their 
power declined more and more ; and ere long it was annihilated. 
Fresh crusades might restore it. The Mongols excited these in the 
West. They joined their exhortations to those of the Georgians, 
Armenians, of the wreck of the crusaders, who had taken refuge in 
Cyprus, and to those of the sovereign pontiffs. The first Tartars 
had commenced by threats ; the last came to offers, and even 
descended to supplications. Twenty ambassadors were sent by 
them to Italy, France, and England ; and it was no fault of theirs 
that the fire of the holy wars was not rekindled, and extended over 
Europe and Asia. These diplomatic attempts, the recital of which 
forms, so to speak, an epilogue to the transmarine expeditions, 
scarcely noticed by those who have written their history, and, 
indeed, unknown to most of them, would deserve, perhaps, our 
fixed attention. We should have to collect facts, resolve difficulties, 


and place in a clear point of view the political system to which the 
négociations with the Tartars belong. Specialties of this class 
could not be appreciated, whilst they were considered isolately, and 
without examining them one with another. We might doubt, with 
Voltaire and De Guignes, that a king of the Tartars had met Saint 
Louis with offers of service. This fact might seem not tenable, 
and its recital pai'adoxical. Yet such scepticism would be unrea- 
sonable, after we had seen that the Mongols had acted upon that 
principle for fifty years; and when we are assured, by reading con- 
temporary writings, and by the inspection of original monuments, 
that this conduct was natural on their part, that it entered into 
their views, that it conformed to their interests, and that it is ex- 
plained by the common rules of reason and policy. 

" The series of events which are connected with these négociations 
sei-ves to complete the history of the Crusades ; but the part they 
may have had in the great moral revolution, which soon followed 
the relations which they occasioned between people hitherto 
imknown to each other, are facts of an importance more general 
and still more worthy of our particular attention. Two systems of 
civilization had become established at the two extremities of the 
ancient continent, as the effect of independent causes, without 
communication, and consequently without mutual influence. All 
at once the events of war and political combinations bring into 
contact these two great bodies, long strangers to each other. The 
formal interviews of ambassadors are not the only occasions which 
brought them together. Other occasions more private, but also 
more efficacious, were established by imperceptible, but innumer- 
able ramifications, by the travels of a host of individuals, attracted 
to the two extremities of the earth, with commercial views, in the 
train of ambassadors or armies. The irruption of the Mongols, by 
throwing everything into agitation, neutralized distance, filled up in- 
tervals, and brought the nations together; the events of war trans- 
ported millions of individuals to an immense distance from the j^laces 
where they were born. History has recorded the voyages of kings, 
of ambassadors, of missionaries. Sempad, the Orbelian ; Hayton, 
King of Armenia; the two Davids, Kings of Georgia; and several 
others were led by political motives to the depths of Asia. Yeroslaf, 
Grand Duke of Sousdal and vassal of the Mongols, hke the other 
Russian princes, came to Kara-Koroum, where he died of poison, it 
was said, administered by the Empress herself, the mother of the 
Emperor Gayouk. Many monks, Italians, French, Flemings, were 
charged with diplomatic missions to the Grand Khan. Mongols 
of distinction came to Rome, Barcelona, Valencia, Lyons, Paris, 
London, Northampton ; and a Franciscan of the kingdom of Naples 



was Archbishop of Peking. His successor was a professor of tneo 
logy of the Faculty of Paris. But how many others, less celebrated, 
were led in the train of those men, either as slaves, or impelled by 
the desire of gain, or by cmiosity, to countries hitherto unexplored-. 
Chance has preserved the names of a few. The first envoy who 
came on the part of the Tartars to the King of Hungary was an 
Englishman, banished from his country for certain crimes, and 
who, after having wandered throughout Asia, had finally taken 
service among the Mongols. A Flemish Cordelier met in the depth 
of Tartary a woman of Metz, named Paquette, who had been 
carried away from Hungary, a Parisian goldsmith whose brother 
was established in Paris on the Grand Pont, and a young man 
from the environs of Rouen, who had been present at the capture 
of Belgrade; he saw there also Russians, Hungarians, and Flemings 
A singer, named Robert, after travelling through tlie whole of 
Eastern Asia, returned to find a grave in the Cathedral of Cbartres. 
A Tartar was a helmet-maker in the armies of Philip the Fair. 
Jean de Plan-Carpin met, near Gayouk, with a Russian gentleman, 
whom he calls Temer, who served as interpreter. Several mer- 
chants of Breslau, Poland, and Austria, accompanied him in his 
journey to Tartary; others returned with him through Russia; 
these were Genoese, Pisans, and two merchants of Venice 
whom chance had brought to Bokhara. They were induced 
to go in the suite of a Mongol ambassador, whom Houlagou 
had sent to Khoubilai. They sojourned several years in China and 
Tartary, took letters from the Grand Khan to the Pope, and 
leturned to the Grand Khan, bringing with them the son of one of 
their number, the celebrated Marco-Polo, and quitted once more the 
Court of Khoubilai to retiu-n to Venice. Travels of this kind were 
not less frequent in the succeeding age. Of this number are those 
of John de Mandeville, an English physician; of Oderic of Friuli; 
of Pegoletti; of Guillaume de Boutdeselle, and several others. 
We may be certain that the -'ournies which have been recorded are 
but a small portion of those which were pei-formed, and that there 
were at that period more people able to make a long join-ney than 
to write an account of it. Many of these adventurers must have 
established themselves and died in the countries they went to visit. 
Others returned to their country as obscure as when they left it; 
but with their imaginations full of what they had seen, relating it 
all to their families and friends, and doubtless with exaggerations ; 
but leaving around them, amidst ridiculous fables, a few useful 
recollections and traditions productive of advantage. Thus were 
sown in Germany, in Italy, in France, in the monasteries, among 
the nobility, and even in the lowest grades of society, precious seeds 


destined to bud at a later j^eriod. All these obscure travellers, 
carrying the arts of their native country to distant lauds, brought 
back other information about these no less precious, and thus 
effected, unconsciously, exchanges more productive of good than 
all those of commerce. By this means not merely the traffic 
in silks, in porcelains, in commodities from Hiudostan, was 
made more extensive and more practicable, opening new routes 
to industry and commerce ; but, that which was far more valuable, 
foreign manners and customs of before unknown nations, extra- 
ordinaiy productions, were presented to the European mind, con- 
fined, since the fall of the Roman empire, within too narrow a 
circle. Men began to have an idea that, after all, there was some- 
thing worthy of notice in the finest, the most ftopulous and the 
most anciently civilized of the four quarters of the world. People 
began to think of studying the arts, the religions, the languages of 
the nations who inhabited it, and there was even a ^proposition to 
establish a j)rofessorship of the Tartar language in the University 
of Paris. Romantic narratives, reduced by discussion within 
reasonable proportions, diffused in all directions juster and more 
varied information: the world seemed opening towards the East. 
Geography made immense strides, and ardour of discovery became 
the new form assumed by the adventurous spirit of Europeans. 
The idea of another hemisphere ceased, as soon as our own became 
better known, to present itself to the mind as a paradox destitute 
of all probability, and it was in going in search of the Zipangri of 
Marco-Polo that Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. 
" I should make too great a digi-ession, were I to investigate what 
were in the East the effects of the Mongol irrujition, the destruc 
tion of the Khalifat, the extermination of the Bulgarians, of the 
Komans, and other northern nations. The decline of the popula- 
tion of Upper Asia, so favourable to the reaction by which the 
Russians, hitherto the vassals of the Tartars, subdued in their turn 
all the nomads of the North ; the submission of China to a foreign 
yoke ; the definitive establishment of the Indian religion in Thibet 
and Tartary ; all these events deserve to be studied in detail. I 
will not even pause to inquire what might have been the results, 
to the nations of Eastern Asia, of the intercourse which they had 
with the West. The introduction of the Indian numerals into 
China, a knowledge of the astronomical system of the Moslems, 
tlie translation of the New Testament and the Psalms into the 
Mongol language, executed by the Latin Archbishop of Khan 
Balik (Peking), the foundation of the lamanical hierarchy, framed 
in imitation of the pontifical court, and produced by the fusion 
effected between the remnants of the Nestorianism established in 


Tartary and the dogmas of the Buddhists ; such were all the inno- 
vations of which there are any traces in Eastern Asia, and 
therewith the commerce of the Franks has very little to do. The 
Asiatics are punished for their contempt of the knowledge of 
Europeans, by the limited results which that very scoru enables 
them to derive from it. To confine myself to what concerns the 
people of the West, and to attempt to justify what I said at the 
commencement of this Memoir, that the effects of the communica- 
tions with the nations of Upper Asia, in the thirteenth century, 
had contributed indirectly to the progress of European civilization, 
I will conclude with a reflection, which I shall offer with the more 
confidence, that it is not entirely new, while, at the same time, the 
facts we have just investigated seem calculated to give it a sanction 
it had not before. 

" Before the establishment of the intercourse which, first 
the Crusades, and then, later, the irruption of the Mongols, 
caused to spring up between the nations of the East and those 
of the West, the greater part of those inventions, which dis- 
tinguished the close of the middle ages, had been known to the 
Asiatics for centuries. The polarity of the loadstone had been dis- 
covered and put into operation in China from the remotest antiquity. 
Gunpowder had been as long known to the Hindoos and the 
Chinese, the latter of whom had, in the tenth century, ' thunder 
carriages,' which seem to have been cannon. It is difficult to 
account in any other way for the fire-stone throweis, which are so 
often mentioned in the history of the Mongols. Houlagou, when 
he set out for Persia, had in his army a body of Chinese artillery- 
men. Again, the first edition of the classic books engraved on 
wooden boards is dated in the year 952. The institution of bank 
notes, and of banking and exchange offices, took place among the 
Jou-Tchen in 1154. Bank notes were adopted by the Mongols 
established in China; they were known to the Persians by the 
same name as the Chinese give them, and Josaphat Barbaro was 
informed in 1450 by an intelligent Tartar whom he met at Asof, 
and who had been on an embassy to China, that this sort of money 
was printed in China every year con nitova stampa ; and this ex- 
pression is remarkable enough, considering the time when Barbaro 
made this observation. Lastly, playing cards — into the origin of 
which so many learned antiquarians would not have busied them- 
selves to inquire, were it not that it marked one of the first applica- 
tions of the art of engi-aving on wood — were invented in China iu 
the year 1 1 20. 

" There are, besides, in the commencement of each of these in- 
ventions, particular featm-es which seem calculated to show their 


origin. I will not speak of the comj^ass, the ancient use of which, 
in China, Hager seems to me successfully to have demonstrated, 
and wliicli passed into Europe by means of the Crusades, previous 
to the irruption of the Mongols, as the famous passage in Jacques 
de Vitiy, and some others, prove. But the oldest playing cards, 
those used in the jeu de tarots, have a marked analogy in their form, 
their designs, their size, their number, with the cards which 
the Chinese make use of. Cannons were the first fire-arms made 
use of in Europe; they are also, it would appear, the only fire-arms 
with which the Chinese were acquainted at this period. The ques 
tion as to paper money appears to have been viewed in its tnie 
light by M. Langles, and after him by Hager. The fiist boards 
made use of to print upon were made of wood and stereotyped, 
like those of the Chinese ; and nothing is more natural than to 
suppose that some book from China gave the idea. This would not 
be more surprising than the fragment of the Bible, in Gothic cha- 
racters, which Father Martini discovered in the house of a Chinese 
at Tchang-Tcheou-Fou. We have the instance of another usage, 
which evidently followed the same route — it is that of the Souan- 
Pan, or arithmetical machine of the Chinese, which was, doubtless, 
introduced into Emope by the Tartars of the army of Baton, and 
which has so extensively pervaded Eussia and Poland, that women 
who cannot read use nothing else in the settlement of their house- 
hold accounts, and their little commercial dealings. The conjectm-e 
which gives a Chinese origin to the primitive idea of European 
typogi-aphy is so natural, that it was propounded before there was 
any opportunity for collecting together all the cii'cumstances which 
make it so probable. It is the idea of Paulo Jovio, and of Men- 
doça, who imagine that a Chinese book may have been brought 
into Em-ope before the amval of the Portuguese in the Indies, by 
the medium of the Scythians and Muscovites. It was developed 
by an anonymous Englishman; and carefully putting aside from 
the consideration the impression in moveable types, which is, no 
doubt, an invention peculiar to the Europeans, one cannot conceive 
any sound objection to an hypothesis which bears so strongly the 
stamp of probability. But this supposition acqunes a still greater 
degi-ee of probability when we apply it to the totality of the disco 
veries in question. All were made in Eastern Asia ; all were un- 
heard-of in the West. Communication took place: it was conti- 
nued for a centuiy and a-half, and ere another centmy had elapsed, 
all these inventions were known in Europe. Theii" origin is veiled 
in obscurity. The region where they manifested themselves, the 
men who produced them, are equally a subject of doubt. Enlight- 
ened countries were not their theati'e. It was not learned men who 


were their authors ; it was common men, obscm'e artisans, who 
lighted up, one after another, these unexpected flames. Nothing 
can better demonstrate the effects of a communication ; nothing 
can be more in accoi dance with what we have said above as to 
those invisible channels, those imperceptible ramifications, whereby 
the science of the Eastern nations penetrated into Europe. The 
gi-eater part of these inventions appear at first in the state of in 
fancy in which the Asiatics have left them ; and this circumstance 
alone, almost prevents our having any doubt as to theii origin. 
Some are immediately put in practice; others remain for some 
time enveloped in obscurity, which conceals from us their progress, 
and they are taken, on their appearance, for new discoveries ; all 
are soon brought to perfection, and, as it were, fecundated by the ge- 
nius of Europeans, operating in concert, communicate to human 
intelligence the greatest impulse known to history. Thus, by this 
shock of nations, the darkness of the middle age was dispersed. 
Calamities, which at first aspect seemed merely destined to afflict 
mankind, served to arouse it from the lethargy in which it had 
remained for ages ; and the subversion of twenty empires was the 
price at which Providence accorded to Europe the light of modern 

The Mongol dynasty of the Youen occupied the empire for a 
century. After having shone with a brilliancy, the reflection of 
which spread over the most remote regions, it ended with Chun-Ti, 
a feeble prince, more mindful of frivolous amusements than of the 
great inheritance which had been left him by his ancestors. The 
Chinese regained their independence; and Tchou-Youen-Tchang, 
the son of a labourer, and for some time a servant in a convent of 
bonzes, was the founder of the celebrated dynasty of the Ming. 
They ascended the imperial throne in 1368, and reigned in the 
name of Houng-Wou. 

The Tartars were massacred in great numbers in the interior of 
China, and the rest were driven back to their old country. The 
Emperor Young- Lo pursued them three several times beyond the 
desert, more than 200 leagues north of the Great Wall, in order to 
exterminate them. He could not, however, effect this object, and, 
dying on his return from his third expedition, his successors left 
the Tartars in peace beyond the desert, whence they diffused them- 
selves right and left. The principal chiefs of the blood of Tching- 
giskhan occupied, each with his people, a particular district, and 
gave birth to various tribes, which all formed so many petty 

These fallen princes, ever tormented by the recollection of their 
ancient power, appeared several times on the frontiers of the empire, 


and did notecase to disquiet the Chinese i^rinces, without, however, 
succeeding in their attempts at invasion. 

Towai'ds the commencement of the seventeenth century, the 
Mantchou Tartars having made themselves masters of China, tlie 
Mongols gradually submitted to them, and placed themselves under 
theii- sovereignty. The Oelets, a Mongol tribe, deriving their name 
from Oloutai, a celebrated warrior in the fourteenth centuiy, made 
frequent irruptions into the country of the Khalkhas, and a san- 
guinary war arose between these two people. The Emperor 
Khang-Hi, under the pretence of conciliating them, intervened in 
theii- quarrel, put an end to the war by subjecting both parties, 
and extended his domination in Tartary to the frontiers of Russia; 
the three Khans of the Khalkhas came to make their submission 
to the Mantchou Emperor, who convoked a gi'and meeting near 
Tolon-Noor. Each Khan presented to him eiglit white horses, 
and one white camel ; from which circumstance this tribute was 
called, in the Mongol language, Yousoun-Dchayan, (the nine 
white) ; it was agreed that they should bring every year a similar 

At the present time the Tartar nations, more or less subject to 
the sway of the Mantchou emperors, are no longer what they were 
in the time of Tchinggiskhan and Timour. Since that epoch 
Tartary has been disorganized by so many revolutions; it has 
undergone such notable political and geographical changes, that 
what travellers and writers said about it in former periods no 
longer applies to it. 

Dm-ing a length of time geographers divided Tartary into three 
grand jjarts — 1. liussian Tartary, extending fi-om east to west, fiom 
the sea of Kamtchatka to the Black Sea, and from north to south, 
from the regions inhabited by the Tongous and Samoiede tribes, to 
the lakes Baikal and Aral. 2. Chinese Tartary, bounded east 
by the sea of Japan, south by the Great Wall of China, west by 
the Gobi or great sandy desert; and north, by the Baikal Lake. 3. 
Independent Tartary, extending to the Caspian Sea, and including 
in its limits the whole of Thibet. Such a division is altogether clu- 
merical, and without any sound basis. All these immense tracts, 
indeed, once formed part of the great empii-es of Tchinggiskhan 
and Timour. The Tartar hordes made encampments there at their 
will in the course of their warlike wanderings ; but now all this is 
completely changed, and, to form an exact idea of modern Tartary, 
it is necessary to modify in a great degree the notions that have 
been transmitted to us by the mediaeval authors, and which, in 
default of better information, have been adopted by all the geo- 
graphers, down to Malte- Bi-un, inclusive. To realize a deânite 


idea about Tavtaiy, we think that the clearest, most certain, and 
consequently the most reasonable rule, is to adopt the opinions of 
the Tartars themselves, and of the Chinese, far more competent 
judges of this matter than Europeans, who, having no connection 
with this part of Asia, are obliged to trust to conjectures which 
have often little to do with truth. In accordance with a universal 
usage, the soundness of which we were enabled to confirm in the 
course of our travels, we will divide the Tartar people into 
Eastern Tartars (Toung-Ta-Dze), or Mantchous, and Western 
Tartars (Si-Ta-Dze), or Mongols. The boundaries of Mantchouria 
are very distinct, as we have already stated. It is bounded on the 
north by the Kinggan mountains, which separate it from Sibei'ia ; 
on the south by the gulf of Phou-Hai and Corea; on the east by 
the sea of Japan ; and on the west by the Barrier of Stakes and a 
branch of the Sakhalien-Oula. It would be a difficult matter to 
define the limits of Mongolia in an equally exact manner ; how- 
ever, without any serious departure from the truth, we may include 
them between the 75th and the 118th degrees longitude of Paris, 
and 35th and 50th degrees of north latitude. Great and Little 
Boukaria, Kalmoukia, Great and Little Thibet — all these deno- 
minations seem to us purely imaginary. We shall enter, by-and-by, 
into some details on this subject, m the second part of our travels, 
when we come to speak of Thibet and of the neighbouring ])eople. 
The people who are comprised in the grand division of Mon 
golia, that we have just given, are not all to be indiscriminately 
considered as Mongols. There are some of them to whom this 
denomination can only be applied in a restricted sense. Towards 
the north-west, for instance, the Mongols are frequently confounded 
with the Moslems ; and towards the south, with the Si-Fans, or 
Eastern Thibetians. The best way clearly to distinguish these 
people, is to pay attention to their language, their manners, their 
religion, their costume, and particularly to the name by which they 
designate themselves. The Mongol Khalkhas are the most nume- 
rous, the most wealthy, and the most celebrated in history. They 
occupy the entire north of Mongolia. Their country is of vast extent, 
including nearly 200 leagues from noith to south, and about 500 
from east to west. We will not repeat here what we have already 
said about the Khalkha district; we will merely add that it is di- 
vided into four great provinces, subject to four separate sovereigns. 
These provinces are sub-divided into eighty-four banners, in Chinese 
called Ky, in Mongol Bochkhon. Princes of different ranks are 
at the head of each banner. Notwithstanding the authority of these 
secular princes, it may safely be said that the Khalkhas are all 
dependent on the Guison-Tamba, the Grand Lama, the Living 


Buddha of all the Mongol Khalkhas, who consider it an honour to 
call themselves Disciples of the Holy One of Kouren {Kouré hokte 
ain Cliahi). 

The Southern Mongols have no special designation; they merely 
bear the name of the principality to which they belong. Thus they 
say, " Mongol of Souniout, Mongol of Gechekten," &c. Southern 
Mongolia comprises twenty-five principalities, which, like those of 
the Khalkhas, are sub-divided into several Bochkhon, The prin- 
cipal are the Ortous, the two Toumet, the two Souniout, the Tchakar, 
Karatsin Oungniot, Gechekten, Barin, Nayman, and the country of 
the Elents. 

The Southern Mongols, near the Great Wall, have little modi- 
fied their manners by their constant intercourse with the Chinese. 
You may remark sometimes in their dress a sort of studied 
elegance, and in their character pretensions to the refined politeness 
of the Chinese. Laying aside, on the one hand, the fi-ankness, the 
good-natured openness of the Mongols of the North, they have 
borrowed from their neighbours somewhat of their cunning and 

Proceeding to the South-east, we encounter the Mongols of the 
Koukou-Noor or Blue Lake (in Chinese, Tsing-Hai or Blue Sea). 
This country is far from possessing the extent which is generally 
assigned to it in geogi'aphieal charts. The Mongols of the Koukou- 
Noor only dwell around the lake, from which they derive their 
name; and, moreover, they are mixed up to a great extent with 
Si-Fans, who cannot live secure in their own country, because of the 
hordes of robbers that are constantly ravaging it. 

To the west of the Koukou-Noor is the river Tsaidam, on whose 
banks encamp the numerous tribes, called Tsaidam-Mongols, who 
must not be confounded with the Mongols of the Koukou-Noor. 
Farther still, in the very heart of Thibet, we encounter other Mon- 
gol tribes. We shall say nothing about them here, as we shall have 
occasion to speak of them in the course of our narrative. We will 
revert, therefore, in some detail to the Mongols of the Koukou-Noor 
and the Tsaidam. 

The Torgot-Tartars, who formerly dwelt near Kara-Koroum, 
the capital of the Mongols in the time of Tcliinggiskhan, are 
now situated to the north-west of Mongoha. In 1672, the whole 
tribe, having raised their tents and assembled all their flocks, aban- 
doned the district which had served them as a resting-place, mi- 
grated to the western part of Asia, and established themselves in 
the steppes between the Don and the Yolga. 

The Torgot princes recognised the sovereignty "^of the Musco- 
vite emperors, and declared themselves their vassals. But these 


wandering hordes, passionately attached to the independence of their 
nomad life, coald not long accommodate themselves to the new 
masters they had selected. They soon felt an aversion to the laws 
and regular institutions which were becoming established in the 
Russian empire. In 1770, the Torgots again made a general 
migration. Led by their chief, Aboucha, they suddenly disappeared, 
passed the Russian frontiers, and halted on the banks of the river 
Hi. This flight had been concerted with the government of Peking. 
The Emperor of China, who had been informed beforehand of the 
period of their departure, took them under his protection, and 
assigned to them settlements on the banks of the Hi. 

The principality of Hi is now the Botany-Bay of China : thither 
are sent the Chinese criminals, condemned to exile by the laws of 
the empire. Before their arrival in these distant regions they are 
obliged to cross frightful deserts, and to climb the Moussour (glacier) 
mountains. These gigantic summits are entirely formed of ice- 
bergs, piled one on the top of the other, so that travellers cannot 
advance except by hawing steps out of the eternal ice. On the 
other side of the Moussour mountains the country, they say, is mag- 
nificent ; the climate temperate enough, and the soil adapted for 
every kind of cultivation. The exiles have transported thither a 
great many of the productions of China ; but the Mongols continue 
to follow their nomad life, and merely to pasture herds and flocks.- 

We had occasion to travel for some time with Lamas of the 
Torgot ; some of them arrived with us at Lha-Ssa. We did not 
lemark, eitlier in their costume, in their manners, or in their lan- 
guage, anything to distinguish them from the Mongols. The;f 
spoke a good deal about the Oros (Russians), but in a way to make 
us understand that they were by no means desirous of again be 
coming subject to their sway. The Torgot camels are remarkablj 
fine, and generally much larger and stronger than those in the 
other parts of Mongolia. 

It would be a very desirable thing to send missionaries to Hi. 
We believe that there would be found already formed there a 
numerous and fervent body of Christians. It is well known that 
for many years past, it is hither that the Christians who have 
refused to apostatize, have been exiled from all the provinces of 
China. The missionary who should obtain permission to exercise 
his zeal in the Torgot, would doubtless have to undergo great jm- 
vations during his journey thither; but he would be amjDly com- 
pensated, by the thought of carrying the succour of religion to aU 
those generous confessors of the faith, whom the tyranny of the 
Chinese government has sent to die in these distant regions. 

To the south-west of Torgot is the province of Khachghar At 


the present day, this district cannot at all be considered a part 
of Mongolia. Its inhatitants have neither the lai^guage, nor the 
physiognomy, nor the costume, nor the religion, nor the manners 
of the Mongols ; they are Moslems. The Chinese, as well as the 
Tartars, call them Hoei-Hoei, a name by wliich they designate the 
Mussulmen who dwell in the interior of the Chinese empire. This 
description of Khachghar, is also applicable to the people to the 
south of the Celestial Mountains, in the Chinese tongue called Tien- 
Chan, and in Mongol, Bokte-oola (holy mountains). 

Not long since the Chinese government had to sustain a terrible 
war against Khachghar. ^Ye are indebted for the following details 
to some military Mandarins who accompanied this famous and 
distant expedition. 

The Court of Peking kept in Khachghar two gi-and Mandarins, 
with the title of Delegates Extraordinary {Kiutchai), who w^ere 
charged to guard the frontiers, and to keep an eye on the move- 
ments of the neighbouring people. These Chinese officers, instead 
of merely watching, exercised then power with such horrible and 
revolting tyranny, that they wore out the patience of the people of 
Khachghar, who, at length, rose in a body, and massacred all the 
Chinese resident in the countiy. The news reaching Peking, the 
Emperor, who knew nothing of the misconduct of his officers, as- 
sembled his troops, and maiched them against the Moslems. The 
contest was long and bloody. The Chinese government had several 
times to send reinforcements. The Hoei-Hoei were commanded by 
a hero called Tchaukoeul; his stature, they say, was prodigious, 
and he had no weapon but an enormous club. He frequently 
defeated the Chinese army, and destroyed several grand military 
Mandarins. At length, the Emperor sent the famous Yang, who 
put an end to the war. The conqueror of Khachghar is a military 
Mandarin of the province of Chang-Tong, remarkable for his lofty 
stature, and above all for the prodigious length of his beard. Ac- 
cording to the account we heard of him, his manner of fighting was 
singular enough. As soon as the action commenced, he tied up 
his beard in two gi-eat knots, in order that it might not get in his 
way, and then he placed himself behind his troops. There, armed 
with along sabre, he drove his soldiers on to combat, and massacred, 
without pity, those who were cowards enough to draw back. This 
method of commanding an army will seem somewhat peculiar; but 
those who have Uved among the Chinese will see that the military 
genius of Yang was foimded on a thorough knowledge of the soldiers 
he had to deal with. 

The Moslems were defeated, and Tchankoeul was, by means of 
treachery, made a prisoner. He was conveyed to Peking, where he 


liad to undergo the most barbarous and humiliating treatment, even 
the being exposed to the people, shut up in an iron cage, like a 
wild beast. The Emperor Tao-Kouang wished to see this warrior, 
of whom fame spoke so much, and ordered him to be brought to 
him. The Mandarins immediately took alarm ; they were afraid 
lest the prisoner should reveal to the Emperor the causes which had 
brought about the revolt of Khachghar, and the horrible massacres 
which had followed it. The great dignitaries saw that these reve- 
lations would be dangerous for them, and make them seem guilty 
of negligence in the eyes of the Emperor, for not having duly 
observed the conduct of the Mandarins who were placed in charge 
of distant provinces. To obviate this danger, they made the un- 
fortunate Tchankoeul swallow a draught whicli took away his speech, 
and threw him into a disgusting state of stupor. When he appeared 
in the presence of the Emperor, his mouth, they say, foamed, and 
his visage was horrible ; he could not answer any of the questions 
which were addressed to him. Tchankouel was condemned to be 
cut into pieces, and to be served up as food for the dogs. 

The Mandarin Yang was loaded with favours by the Emperor, 
for having so happily terminated the war of Khachghar. He ob- 
tained the dignity of Batourou, a Tartar word signifying valorous. 
This title is the most honourable that a military Mandarin can 

The Batourou Yang was sent against the English, in their last 
war with the Chinese ; but there it would appear his tactics did 
not avail. During our travels in China we inquired of several 
Mandarins, how it was that the Batourou Yang had not extermi- 
nated the English : the answer everywhere was, that he had had 
compassion on them. 

The numerous principalities of which Mongolia is composed, 
are all more or less dependent on the Mantchou Emperor, in pro- 
portion as they show more or less weakness in their relations with 
the Court of Peking. They may be considered as so many feudal 
kingdoms, giving no obedience to their sovereign beyond the extent 
of their fear or their interest; and indeed, what the Mantchou 
dynasty fears above all things, is the vicinity of these Tartar tribes. 
The Emperors are fully aware tliat, headed by an enterprising and 
bold chief, these tribes might successfully renew the terrible wars 
of other times, and once more obtain possession of the empire. 
For this reason, they use every means in their power to preserve 
tlio friendship of the Mongol princes, and to enfeeble the strength 
of these terrible nomads. It is with this view, as we have already 
remarked, that they patronise lamanism, by richly endowing the 
Lamaseries, and by granting numerous privileges to the Lamas 



So long as they can maintain their influence over the sacerdotal 
tribe, they are assured that neither the people nor the princes will 
stir from their repose. 

Alliances are another means by wliich the reigning dynasty 
seeks to consolidate its i)ower in Mongolia. The daughters and 
nearest relations of the Emperor, intermarrying with the royal 
families of Tartaiy, contribute to maintain between the two peoples 
pacific and friendly relations. Yet these princesses continue to have 
a great predilection for the pomp and grandeur of the imperial 
court. The mournful, monotonous life of the desert soon fatigues 


them, and they sigh for the brilliant fêtes of Peking. To ob- 
viate the inconvenience that might attend their frequent journeys 
to the capital, a very severe regulation has been made to moderate 
the wandering humour of these princesses. First, for the first ten 
years after their marriage, they are forbidden to come to Peking, 
under penalty of having the annual pension the Emperor allows 
to their husbands suspended. This period having elapsed, they 
are allowed to go to Peking, but never at their own mere fancy. 


A tribunal is appointed to examine their reasons foi temporarily 
quitting their family. If these are considered valid, they allow 
them a certain number of days, on the expiration of which they 
are enjoined to return to Tartary. During their stay at Peking, 
they are supported at the expense of the Emperor, suitably to then- 

The most elevated personages in the hierarchy of the Mongol 
princes, are the Thsin-Wang and the Kiun-Wang. Their title is 
equivalent to that of king. After them come the Peile, the Beisse, 
the Koung of the first and second class, and the Dchassak. These 
may be compared to our ancient dukes, barons, &:c. We have 
already mentioned that the Mongol princes are bound to pay cer- 
tain rents to the Eniperor ; but the amount of these is so small, that 
the Mantcliou dynasty can only levy it on account of the moral 
effect that may result. As simple matter-of-fact, it would be nearer 
the truth to say that the Mantchous are the tribv.taiies of the Mon- 
gols ; for, in return for the few beasts they receive from them, they 
give them annually large sums of money, silken stuffs, clothes, and 
various articles of luxury and ornament, such as buttons, sables, 
peacocks' feathers, &c. Each Wang of the first degree receives 
annually 2,500 ounces of silver (about =£800), and forty pieces of 
silk stuff. All the other princes are paid according to the rank 
they derive from the Emperor. A Dchassak, for example, receives 
yearly one hundred ounces of silver, and four pieces of silk. 

There exist certain Lamaseries, termed Imperial, where each 
Lama, on obtaining the degree of Kalon, is obliged to offer to the 
Emperor an ingot of silver of the value of fifty ounces; his name 
is then inscribed on the register of the imperial clergy at Peking, 
and he is entitled to the pension given yearly to the Lamas of 
the Emperor. It is obvious that all these measures, so calculated 
to flatter the self-love and avarice of the Tartars, do not a little 
contribute to maintain their feelings of respect and submission 
towards a government which takes such pains to court their friend- 

The Mongols, however, of the district of the Khalkhas do not 
seem to be much affected by these demonstrations. They only see 
in the Mantchous a rival race, in possession of a prey which they 
themselves have never ceased to desire. We have frequently heard 
the Mongol Khalkhas use the most unceremonious and seditious 
language in speaking of the Mantcliou Emi)eror. " They are sub- 
ject," say they, " to the Guison-Tamba alone, to the Most Holy, 
and not to the black-man (layman), who sits on the throne of 
Peking." These redoubtable children of Tchinggiskhan still seem 
to be cherishing in their inmost heart schemes of conquest and 


invasion. They only await, they say, the command of their 
Grand Lama to march direct upon Peking, and to regain an empire 
which they heUeve to he theirs, for the sole reason that it was 
formerly theirs. The Mongol princes exact from their subjects or 
slaves certain tributes, which consist in sheep, and here is the absurd 
and unjust regulation, in accordance with which this tribute must 
be paid : 

The owner of five or more oxen must contribute one sheep : the 
owner of twenty sheep must contribute on6 of them ; if he owns 
forty he gives two; but they need give no more, however numerous 
their flocks. As may be seen, this tribute really weighs upon the 
poor only; the wealthy may possess a great number of cattle with- 
out being obliged to contribute more than two sheep. 

Besides these regular tributes, there are others which the princes 
ai*e accustomed to levy on their slaves, on some extraordinary 
occasions; for instance, marriages, burials, and distant voyages. 
On these occasions, each collection of ten tents is obliged to furnish 
a horse and a camel. Every Mongol who owns three cows must 
pay a pail of milk ; if he possesses .five, a pot of koumis or wine, 
made of fermented milk. The owner of a flock of 100 sheep, 
furnishes a felt carpet or a tent covering.; he who owns three 
camels must give a bundle of long cords to fasten the baggage. 
However, in a country where everything is subject to the arbitrary 
will of the chief, these regulations, as may be supposed, are not 
strictly observed. Sometimes the subjects are altogether exempted 
from their operation, and sometimes also there is exacted from them 
much more than the law decrees. 

Eobbeiy and murder ai-e very severely punished among the 
Mongols; but the injured individuals, or their parents, are them- 
selves obliged to prosecute the prisoner before the tribunals : the 
worst outrage remains unpunished if no one appears to prosecute. 
In the ideas of a semi-barbarous people, the man who attempts to 
take the property or life of any one, is deemed to have committed 
merely a private offence, reparation for wliich ought to be demanded, 
not by the public, but by the injured party or his family. These 
rude notions of justice are common to China and to Thibet; and 
for that matter, we know that Rome herself had no other until the 
establishment of Christianity, which caused the right of the com- 
munity to prevail over the right of the individual. 

Mongolia, generally speaking, wears a gloomy and savage 
aspect ; the eye is nowhere recreated by the charm and variety of 
landscape scenery. The monotony of the steppes is only interrupted 
by ravines, by vast rents of the earth, or by stony and bai'ren hills. 
Towards the north, in the distiict of Jvhalkhas, natm-e is more 


animated ; tall forests decorate the summits of the mountains, and 
numerous rivers water the rich pastures of the plains ; hut in the 
long winter season, the earth remains buried unde^- a thick bed of 
snow. Towards the Great Wall, Chinese industry glides like a ser- 
pent into the desert. Towns arise on all sides. The Land of Grass 
is crowned with harvests, and the Mongol shepherds find themselves 
driven back northwards, little by little, by the encroachments of 

Sandy plains occupy, perhaps, the greater part of Mongolia; 
you do not see a single tree there ; some short, brittle grass, which 
seems to have much difficulty in issuing from this unfruitful soil, 
creeping briars, a few scanty tufts of heath, such is the sole vegeta- 
tion and pasturage of Gobi. Water is very rarely seen; at long 
intervals you meet with a few deep wells, dug for the convenience of 
the caravans that are obliged to cross this dismal tract. 

In Mongolia there are only two seasons in the year, nine 
months for winter, and three for summer. Sometimes the heat is 
stifling, particularly on the sandy steppes, but it only lasts a few 
days. The nights, however, are almost invariably cold. In the 
Mongol countries, cultivated by the Chinese, outside the Great Wall, 
all agricultural labour must be comprehended within three months. 
As soon as the earth is sufficiently thawed, they hastily set to work, 
or rather they do nothing but touch the surface of the ground 
lightly with tlie plough ; they then immediately sow the seed ; the 
corn grows with astonishing rapidity. Whilst they are waiting for 
it to come to matmity, the men are incessantly occupied in pulling 
up the weeds that overrun the plain. Scarcely have they gathered 
in the harvest when the winter comes with its terrible cold ; during 
tliis season they thresh the corn. As the cold makes vast crevices 
in the earth, they throw water over the surface of the threshing- 
tioor, which freezes forthwith, and creates for the labourers, a place 
always smooth and admirably clean. 

The excessive cold which prevails in Mongolia may be attïi- 
buted to three causes : — to the great elevation of the country ; to the 
nitrous substances with which it is strongly impregnated, and to 
the almost entire absence of cultivation. In the places which the 
Chinese have cultivated the temperature has risen in a remarkable 
degree; the heat goes on increasing, so to speak, from year to year, 
as cultivation advances ; so that particular grain crops, which at 
first would not grow at all, because of the cold, now n^pen with 
wonderful success. 

Mongolia, on account of its immense solitudes, has become the 
haunt of a large number of wild animals. You see at every step, 
hares, pheasants, eagles, yellow goats, grey squirrels, foxes and 


wolves. It is remarkable that the wolves of Mongolia attack men 
rather than animals. They may be seen, sometimes, passing at full 
gallop, through a flock of sheep, in order to attack the shepherd. 
About the Great Wall they frequently visit the Tartaro-Chinese vil- 
lages, enter the fai-ms, and disdaining the domestic animals they 
find in the yard, proceed to the inside of the house, and there select 
theii- human victims, whom they almost invariably seize by the 
throat and strangle. There is scarcely a village in Tartary, where, 
every year, misfortunes of this kind do not occur. It would seem 
as though the wolves of this country were resolved to avenge on 
men, the sanguinary war which the Tartars make upon their 

The stag, the wild goat, the mule, the wild camel, the yak, the 
brown and black bear, the lynx, the ounce and the tiger, frequent 
the deserts of Mongolia. The Tartars never proceed on a journey, 
unless armed with bows, fusils and lances. 

When we consider the horrible climate of Tartary, that climate 
ever so gloomy and frozen, we should be led to think that the inha- 
bitants of these wild countries must be of an extremely fierce and 
nigged temperament; theii' physiognomy, their deportment, the 
(tostume they wear, all would seem to confirm this opinion. The 
Mongol has a flat face, with prominent cheek bones, the chin short 
and retuing, the forehead sunken, the eyes small and obhque, of a 
yellow tint, as though full of bile, the hair black and rugged, 
the beard scanty, the sldn of a deep brown, and extremely coarse. 
I'he Mongol is of middle height, but his great leathern boots and 
large sheep-skin robe, seem to take away from his heiglit, and make 
him appear diminutive and stumpy. To complete this portrait, we 
must add a heavy and ponderous gait, and a harsh, shrill, discordant 
language, full of fi-ightful aspirates. Notwithstanding this rough 
and unprepossessing exterior, the disposition of the INiongol is full 
of gentleness and good nature ; he passes suddenly from the most 
rollicking and extravagant gaiety to a state of melancholy, which 
is by no means disagreeable. Timid to excess in his ordinary 
habits ; when fanaticism or the desire of vengeance arouses him, he 
displays in his courage an impetuosity which nothing can stay ; he 
is candid and credulous as an infant, and he j)assionately loves to 
hear marvellous anecdotes and narratives. The meeting with a 
tr-avelling Lama is always for him a source of happiness. 

Aversion to toil and a sedentary life, the love of pillage and 
rapine, cruelty, unnatural debaucheries, are the vices which have 
been generally attributed to the Mongol Tartars. We are apt to 
believe that the portrait which the old writers have drawn of them 
was not exaggerated, for we always find these terrible hordes, at 


the period of their gigantic conquests, bringing in their train, mur- 
der, pillage, conflagration, and every description of scourge. But 
are the Mongols the same now that tliey were formerly ? We believe 
we can affirm the contrary, at least to a great extent. Wherever 
we have seen them, we have found them to be generous, frank, and 
hospitable; inclined, it is true, like ill-educated children, to pilfer 
little things which excite their curiosity, but by no means in the 
habit of practising what is called pillage and robbery. As to their 
aversion for toil and a sedentary life, they are just the same as 
heretofore. It must also be admitted that their manners are 
very free, but their conduct has more in it of recklessness than 
of absolute corruption. We seldom find among them those un- 
bridled and brutal debaucheries to which the Chinese are so much 

Tlie Mongols are strangers to every kind of industry. Some felt 
cai-pets, some rudely tanned hides, a little needlework and em- 
broidery, are exceptions not deserving of mention. On the other 
hand, they possess to perfection the qualities of a pastoral and 
nomad people. They have the senses of sight, hearing, and scent 
prodigiously developed. The Mongol is able to hear at a very long 
distance the trot of ahorse, to distinguish the form of objects, and 
to detect the distant scent of flocks, and the smoke of an en- 

Many attem.pts have already been made to propagate Chris- 
tianity among the Tartars, and we may say that they have not been 
altogether fruitless. Towards the end of the eighth century and in 
the commencement of the ninth, Timothy, patriarch of the Nes- 
torians, sent some monks to preach the Gospel to the liioung-Nou 
Tartars, who had taken refuse on the shores of the Caspian Sea. 
At a later period they penetrated into Central Asia, and into China. 
In the time of Tchinggiskhan and his successors, Franciscan and 
Dominican missionaries were dispatched to Tartary. The conver- 
sions were numerous ; even princes, it is said, and emperors were 
baptized. But we must not entirely credit the statements of the 
Tartar ambassadors, who, the more easily to draw the Christian 
princes of Europe into a league against the Moslems, never 
failed to state that their masters had been baptized, and had made 
profession of Christianity. It is certain, however, that at the com- 
mencement of the fourteenth century, Pope Clement V. erected at 
Peking an archbishopric, in favour of Jean de Montcorvin, a Fran- 
ciscan missionary who preached the Gospel to the Tartars for 
forty-two years ; he translated into the Mongol language the New 
Testament and the Psalms of David, and left at his death a very 
flourishing Christendom. We find on this subject some curious 


details in " Le Livre de I'Estat du Grant Caan"^ (The book of the 
State of the Grand Khan), extracted from a mamiscrijjt of the Na- 
tional Library, and published in the " Nouveau Journal Asiatique" 
(vol. vi.), by M. Jacquet, a learned orientalist. We conceive that 
it may be acceptable to quote a few passages from this production. 


"In the said city of Cambalech was an archbishop, who was 
called Brother John of Mount Curvin, of the order of Minorites, 
and he was legate there for Pope Clement V. This arch- 
bishop erected in that city aforesaid, three houses of Minorites, 
and they are two leagues distant from one another. He likewise 
instituted two others in the city of Kacon, which is a long distance 
fi-om Cambalech, being a journey of three months, and it is on the 
sea coast; and in these two jjlaces were put two Minorites as 
bishops. The one was named Brother Andrew of Paris, and the 
other, Brother Peter of Florence. These brothers, and John the 
Archbishop, converted many persons to the faith of Jesus Christ. 
He is a man of irreproachable life, agreeable to God and the world, 
and very much in the Emperor's favour. The Emperor provided 
him and all his people with all things necessary, and he was much 
beloved by both Christians and Pagans; and he certainly would 
have converted all that country to the Christian and Catholic faith, 
if the false and misbelieving Nestorian Christians had not prevented 
it. The archbishop had great trouble in restoring these Nestorians 
to the obedience of our Holy Mother the Eoman Church ; without 
which obedience, he said, they could not be saved ; and on this ac- 
count these Nestorian schismatics disliked him gTeatly. This arch- 
bishop has just departed, as it pleased God, from this life, A gieat 
multitude of Christians and Pagans attended his funeral; and the 
Pagans tore their funeral robes, as is their custom. And these 
Christians and infidels took, with great reverence, the robes of the 
archbishop, and held them in great respect, and as relics. He was 
buried there honourably, in the fashion of the faithful. They still 
visit liis tomb with great devotion." 


*' In the said city of Cambalech there is a sort of Christian 
schismatics whom they call Nestorians. They observe the customs 

1 This compilation was made in the fourteenth century, by order of Pope 
John XXII. 


and manners of the Greek Church, and aie not obedient to the 
Holy Church of Rome ; but they are of another sect, and are at 
great enmity with all the Catholic Christians who are loyal to the 
Holy Church of Rome aforesaid. And when the archbishop, of 
whom we spoke just now, built those abbeys of Minorites aforesaid, 
the Nestorians destroyed them in the night, and did them all the 
mischief in then- power; for tbey dared not injure the said arch- 
bishop, or his brethren, or the other faithful Christians publicly 
and openly, because the Emperor loved them and showed them 
his favour. These Nestorians dwelling in the said empire of 
Cathay, number more than 80,000, and are vciy rich ; but many of 
them fear the Christians. They have very beautiful and very holy 
churches, with crosses and images in honour of God and of the 
saints. They receive from the said Emperor several offices, and he 
gi'ants them many privileges, and it is thought that if they would 
consent to unite and agree with these Minorites and with other good 
Christians who reside in this countiy, they might convert the whole 
of this country and the Emperor to the true faith." 


" The Grand Khan protects the Christians who in this said king 
dom are obedient to the Holy Church of Rome, and makes provi- 
sion for all their wants, for he shows them very great favour and 
love ; and whenever they require anything for their churches, their 
crosses, or their sanctuaries, in honour of Jesus Christ, he awards it 
with great willingness. But they must pray to God for him and 
his health particularly in their sermons. And he is very anxious 
that they should all pray for him ; and he readily allows the 
brethren to preach the faith of God in the churches of the infidels, 
which they call vritanes, and he also permits the infidels to hear 
the brethren preach ; so that the infidels go there very willingly, and 
often with great devotion, and give the brethren much alms; and, 
likewise, the Emperor lends and sends his servants to aid and assist 
the Christians when they require their services, and so solicit the 

While the Tartars remained masters of China, Christianity 
made great progress in the empire. At the present day (we say it 
with sorrow), there is not to be found in Mongolia the least vestige 
of what was done in ages gone by, in favour of these nomad people. 
We trust, however, that the light of the Gospel will ere long shine 
once more in their eyes. The zeal of Europeans for the propaga- 



tion of tlie faith will hasten the accomplishment of Noah's prophecy. 
Missionaries, the children of Japheth, will display their courage and 
devotion : they will fly to the aid of the children of Shem, and will 
esteem themselves happy to pass their days under the Mongol 
tents : ' " God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents 
of Shem." — Genes, cap. ix. v. 27. 




otel of Justice and Mercy — Province of Kan-Sou — Agriculture — Great Works 
for the Irrigation of the FieUls — Manner of Living in Inns — Great Confusion 
iu a Town caused by our Camels — Chinese Life-guard — Mandarin Inspector 
of the Public Works — Ning-Hia — Historical and Topographical Details — Inn 
of the Five Felicities — Contest with a Mandarin, Tchong-Wei — Immense 
Mountains of Sand — Road to Hi — Unfavourable aspect of Kao-Tan-Dze — 
Glance at the Great Wall — Inquiry after the Passports — Tartars travelling in 
China — Dreadful Hurricane — Origin and Manners of the Inhabitants of 
Kan-Sou — The Dchiahours — Interview with a Living Buddha — Hotel of the 
Temperate Chmates — Family of Samdadchiemba — Mountain of Ping-Keou — 
Fight between an Innkeeper and his Wife — Water-mills — Knitting — Si-Ning- 
Fou — House of Rest — Arrival at Tang-Keou-Eul. 

Two months liad elapsed since our departure from the Valley of 
Black Waters. During that period, we had undergone in the 
desert continual fatigue and privations of every kind. Our health, 
it is true, was not as yet materially impaired, but we felt that our 
strength was leaving us, and we appreciated the necessity of modi- 
fying, for a few days, our late rough manner of living. In this 


point of view a country occupied by Chinese could not be otherwise 
than agreeable, and, in comparison \^ith Tartary, would place 
within our reach all sorts of comforts. 

As soon as we had passed the Hoang-Ho, we entered the small 
frontier town called Ché-Tsui-Dze, which is only separated from 
the river by a sandy beach. We proceeded to take up our lodging 
at the Hotel of Justice and Mercy {Jeu-y-Ting). The house was 
large and recently built. Witli the exception of a solid floor of grey 
tiles, the whole construction was of wood. The host received us 
with that courtesy and attention which are always displayed when 
jieople desire to give a character to a new establishment; and, 
besides, the man havmg a most unprepossessing aspect, was anxious, 
probably, by his amiability of manners, to redeem his ugliness of 
feature ; his eyes, which squinted horribly, were always turned 
away from the person whoDi he was addressing. However, if the 
organ of sight was defective, the organ of speech had mai'vellous 
elasticity. In his quality of an old soldier, he had seen much, 
heard much, and what is more, he I'emembered much ; he was 
acquainted with all countries, and had had to do with all sorts of 
men. His loquacity was far from being troublesome to us: he 
gave us details of every kind, as to the places, great and small, 
which we had to visit before our arrival at Koukou-Noor. That 
part of Tartary was well known to him; for, in the military part of 
his career, he had served against the Si-Fan. The day after om* 
aiTival he brought us, early in the morning, a large scroll, on which 
were written, in order, the names of the towns, villages, hamlets, 
and places that we had to pass in the province of Kan-Sou ; and 
then he proceeded to give us a description of the localities with so 
much enthusiasm, so much gesticulation, and in such a loud key, 
that he made our heads turn. 

The time which was not absorbed in long interviews, partly 
compulsory, partly voluntary, with our host, was occupied in visiting 
the town. Ché-Tsui-Dze is built in the comer of an angle, formed 
on one side by the Alechan mountains, and on the other by the 
Yellow River. On its eastern bank the Hoang-Ho is bordered by 
dark hills, wherein are abundant coal mines, which the inhabitants 
work with great activity, and whence they deiive their chief wealth. 
The suburbs of the town are occupied by great potteries, where you 
obsei-ve colossal urns, used in families as reservoirs of water, and 
lai-ge stoves of admirable construction, and a large collection of 
vases of all shapes and sizes. There is in the province of Kan-Sou 
a large trade in this pottery. 

At Ché-Tsui-Dze, provisions are abundant, varied, and of 
astonishingly moderate price. Nowhere, perhaps, can a person 


live so economically. At every hour of the day and niglit, itiner- 
ant restaurateurs bring to your house whatever provisions you need: 
soups, ragouts of mutton and beef, vegetables, pastry, rice, vermicelli, 
&c. There are dinners for every appetite, and for every purse — from 
the complicated banquet of the rich, to the simple and clear broth 
of the beggar. These restaurateurs are coming and going to and 
fro almost without interval. They are generally Moslems — a blue 
cap distinguishing them from the Chinese. 

After two days repose in the Inn of Justice and Mercy, we 
proceeded on our way. The environs of Ché-Tsui-Dze aie uncul- 
tivated. On all sides, nothing is to be seen but sand and gravel, 
drifted by the annual inimdation of the Yellow Eiver. However, 
as you advance, the soil, becoming imperceptibly higher, improves. 
An hour's distance from the town, we crossed the Great Wall, or 
rather passed over some miserable ruins that still mark the ancient 
site of the celebrated rampart of China. The countiy soon becomes 
magnificent, and we could not but admire the agricultural genius 
of the Chinese people. The part of Kan-Sou which we were 
traversing, is especially remarkable by its ingenious and extensive 
works for facilitating the irrigation of the fields. 

By means of creeks cut in the banks of the Yellow Kiver, the 
waters are conveyed into broad artificial canals ; these again supply 
others of a larger size, which, in their tmn, fill the ditches with 
which all the fields are surrounded. Sluices, great and small, 
admirable in their simplicity, serve to raise the water and to carry it 
over all the inequalities of tbe land. The distribution of the water 
is perfectly arranged; each landowner waters his fields in his turn, 
and no one is allowed to open his flood-gate before his regularly 
appointed time. 

Few villages are met with ; but you observe, in all directions, 
farms of various sizes separated from one another by meadows. 
The eye does not rest upon either groves or pleasure-gardens. 
Except a few large trees round the dwellings, all the land is de- 
voted to the cultivation of corn ; they do not even reserve a space 
for stacking the harvest, but pile it up on the tops of the houses, 
which are always flat-roofed. On the days of the general irrigation, 
the country gives you a peifect idea of those famous inundations of 
the Nile, the descriptions of which have become so classic. The 
inhabitants traverse their fields in small skiffs, or in light carts with 
enormous wheels, and generally drawn by buffaloes. 

These irrigations, so conducive to the fertility of the land, are a 
great pest to travellers. The roads are generally covered with 
water and mud, so that you cannot use them, but mustlaboiu- along 
the mounds which form the boundaries of the fields. When you 


have to guide caraels over such roads, it is the height of misery. 
We did not advance a single step without the fear of seeing 
our baggage fall into the mud; and more than once such an 
accident did occur, throwing ns into infinite embarrassment. In 
fact, that the misfortune did not oftener befal us, was solely 
attributable to the skill in mud-walking which our camels had 
acquired in their apprenticeship amongst the marshes of the 

In the evening of our first day's march, we anived at a small 
village called Wang-Ho-Po ; we had expected to find here the same 
facility in obtaining provisions as at Ché-Tsui-Uze, but we were 
soon undeceived. The customs were not the same ; those amiable 
restamatem-s, with their baskets of ready-dressed viands, were no 
longer visible. Forage- dealers were the only persons who came to 
offer their goods. We therefore commenced by giving the animals 
their rations, and afterwards went into the village to see if we coidd 
find any provisions for our o\\ti supper. On our return to the inn, 
we were obliged to cook our own supper ; the host merely furnished 
us with water, coal, and a meal-kettle. Whilst we were peaceably 
occupied in appreciating the result of our culinary labours, a great 
tumult, arose in the courtyard of the inn. It was occasioned by a 
caravanof camels, conducted by Chinese merchants, who were goingto 
the town of Ning-Hia. Destined for the same route as themselves, 
we soon entered into conversation. They told us that the direct 
road to Ning-Hia was so bad as to be impracticable, even for the 
best camels ; but they added, they were acquainted with a cross- 
road shorter and less dangerous, and they invited us to go 
with them. As they were to depart in the nicfht, we called the host 
in order to settle our account. After the Chinese fashion, when 
sapeks are in question, on one side they ask much, on the other they 
oiier too little ; then there is a long squabble, and after mutual con- 
cessions you come to an agreement. As they thought us Tartars, it 
was quite a matter of course with them to ask us nearly ti'iple the 
just amount : the result was, that the dispute was twice as long as 
it ordinarily is. We had to discuss the matter vigorously ; first, 
for ourselves, then for our beasts, for the room, the stabling, the 
watering, the kettle, the coal, the lamp, for eveiy single item, until 
at length we got the innkeeper down to the tariff of civilised people. 
Tlie unfortunate Tartar exterior, which, for other reasons, we had 
assumed, had been the occasion of our acquiring a certain degree 
of dexterity in discussions of this kind ; for not a day passed, during 
our journey through the province of Kan-Sou, in which we had not 
to quaiTel, in this manner, with innkeepers. Such quaiTcls, how- 
ever, involve no disagi-eeable results ; you dispute, and dispute, and 



then you come to an agreement, and the matter is over, and yon 
are as good friends as ever with your antagonist. 

It was scarcely past midnight when the Chinese camel-drivers 
were on foot, making, with great tumult, their preparations for 
departure. We rose, but it was to no purpose that we expedited 
the saddling of our animals ; our fellow travellers were ready before 
us and went on, promising to proceed slowly till we came up with 
them. The instant that om camels were ready, we departed. The 
night was dark ; it was impossible to discover our guides. With the 
aid of a small lamp we sought traces of them, but wc were not success- 
ful. Our only course, therefore, was to proceed, at chance, across 
these marshy plains, which were altogether unknown to us. We 
soon found ourselves so iuvolved in the inundated soil, that we 
dared advance no farther, and halted at a bank, and there awaited 

As soon as the day dawned, we directed our steps, by a thousand 
ins and outs, towards a large walled town that we perceived in the 
distance; it was Ping-Lou-Hien, a town of the third class. Our 
arrival in this town occasioned lamentable disorder. The country is 
remarkable for the number and beauty of its mules ; and at thisjunc- 
ture, tber3 was one of these standing, fastened by a h alter, before eacli 
of the houses of the long street, which we were traversing from north 
to south. As we proceeded, all these animals, seized with fright at 
the sight of our camels, reared on their hind legs and dashed with 
violence against the shops ; some broke the halters which confined 
them, tore off at a gallop, and overthrew, in their flight, the stalls 
of the street merchants. The people gathered together, sent forth 
shouts, anathematised the stinking Tartars, cursed the camels, and 
increased the disorder instead of lessening it. We were grieved to 
find that our presence had such unfortunate results; hut what 
could we do ? We could not render the nudes less timid, nor pre- 
vent the camels from having a frightful appearance. One of us, 
at last, determined to run on before the caravan, and inform the 
people of the approach of the camels. This precaution diminished 
the evil, which did not, however, entirely cease until we were out- 
side the gates of the town. 

We had intended to breakfast at Ping-Lou-Hien ; but, not 
having conciliated the good-will of its inhabitants, we dared not 
stop there. We had only the courage to purchase some provisions, 
for which we paid an exorbitant price, the occasion not being 
favourable for bargaining. At some distance from the town, we 
came to a guard-house, where we stopped to rest awliile, and to 
take our morning repast. These guard-houses are very numerous 
in China, the rule being that there shall be one of them at every 


half-league, on all the great roads. Of a singular and entirely 
Chinese construction, these barracks consist of a little edifice either 
of wood or earth, but always whitewashed. In the centre, is a kind 
of shed entirely without forniture, and with one large opening in 
front. This is reserved for unfortunate travellers, who, during the 
night, being overtaken by bad weather, cannot take refuge in an inn. 
On eacli side is a little room with doors and windows, and some- 
times with a wooden bench j^ainted red, by way of fui-niture. The 
exterior of the barrack is decorated with rude pictures, representing 
the gods of war, cavalry, and fabulous animals ; on the walls of the 
shed are drawn all tlie weapons used in China, matchlocks, bows, 
and aiTows, lances, bucklers, and sabres of every description. At a 
little distance from the barrack, you see on the right a square tower, 
and on the left five small posts standing in a line. These 
denote the five lis which are the distance from one guard-house to 
another ; frequently a large board, on two poles, inlbrins the- 
traveller of the names of the nearest towns in that quaiter. The 
directions on the board now before us were these : — 

From Ping-Lou-Hien to Ning-Hia, fifty lis. 
Northv/ards to Ping-Lou-Hien, five lis. 
Southwards to Xing-Hia, forty-five lis. 

In time of war, the square tower seiwes during the night for 
giving signals by means of fireworks, combined in particular ways. 
The Chinese relate that the Emperor Yeou-Wang, the thirteenth 
emperor of the Tclieou dynasty, 780 b.c., yielding to the absmxl 
solicitations of his wife, ordered one night the signals of alarm to 
be made. The Empress wanted at once to amuse herself at the 
expense of the soldiers, and to ascertain, at the same time, whether 
these fireworks would really bring the troops to succoiu' the capital. 
As the signals passed on to the provinces, tlie governors dispatched 
the military Mandarins and tlîeir forces to Peking. "When the 
soldiers learned, on their an-ival, that they had been called together 
for the capj'icious amusement of a woman, they returned home full 
of indignation. Shoitly afterwards, the Tartars made an irruption 
into the empire, and advanced with rapidity to the very walls of the 
capital. Tliis time tne Emperor gave the alarm in grave eai-nest, 
but througheut the ])rovinces not a man stirred, thinking the 
Empress was again amusing herself; the consequence was, that the 
Tartars entered Peking, and the imperial family was massacred. 

The profound peace which China has enjoyed so long has much 
diminished the importance of these guard-houses. When they 
decay they are seldom repaired ; in most cases their doors and 
windows have been caiTied off, and no one lives in them at all. 


On some of the more frequented roads, they keep in repair the 
direction-boards and the posts. 

The barrack where we halted was deserted. After having tied 
our beasts to a thick post, we entered a room, and took in peace a 
wholesome refreshment. Travellers looked at us as they passed, 
and seemed a little surprised to find the place turned into a dining- 
room. The finer people, especially, smiled at these three uncivilised 
Mongols, as they deemed us. Our halt was brief. The direction- 
board officially announced that we had yet forty-five lis' marcli 
before we reached Niug-Hia, so that, considering the difïicirlty of 
the road, and the slowness of our camels, we had no time to lose. 
We proceeded along the banks of a magnificent canal, supplied by 
the waters of the Yellow Tliver, and destined for the irrigation of 
the fields. Whilst the small caravan was slowly marching over a 
nruddy and slippery ground, we saw advancing towards ns a 
numerous party of horsemen. As the retinue came up, the innir- 
nierahle labourers who were repairing the banks of the canal, 
prostrated themselves on the earth, and exclaimed, " Peace and 
happiness to our father and mother !" We at once understood that 
the p3rson so addressed was a superior Mandarin. In accordance 
with the strict rules of Chinese etiquette, we ought to have dis- 
moirnted, and have prostrated ourselves, as the others did ; but we 
considered that, in oirr quality of priests of the Western Heaven, 
we might dispense with this troublesome and disagreeable cereniony. 
We remained, therefore, gravely seated on our steeds, and advanced 
quietly. At sight of our camels, the other horsemen prudently 
removed to a respectful distance ; but the Mandai'in, to show his 
bravery, spurred his horse, and compelled it to come towards us. 
He saluted irs politely, and made inquiries in Mongol as to our 
health and our journey. As his horse grew more and more afraid 
of our camels, he was constrained to cirt short the conversation, 
and to rejoin his retinire, but he went away, triumphant at the 
reflection that he had foirnd an opportunity of speaking Mongol, 
and of thus giving the horsemen of his suite a high notion of his 
knowledge. This j\Iandarin appeared to us to be a Tartar-Mant- 
chou ; he was making an official inspection of the irrigating canals. 

^Ye proceeded still some way along the banks of the same canal, 
meeting nothing on our road but some carriages on large wheels, 
drawn by bullaloes, and a lev/ travellers mounted on asses of lofty 
stature. At length, we discerned the lofty ramparts of Ning-Hai, and 
the numerous kiosks of the pagodas, which looked in the distance like 
tall cedar.?. Tlie lirick-walls of Ning-Hai are ancient, but well pre- 
served. The antiquity, which has almost entirely covered them 
Willi moss and liclten, gives them a grand and imposing aspect. 


On every side tliey are surrounded by inarslics, where canes, reeds, - 
and water-lilies grow in abundance. The interior of the town is 
poor and nii5orai)le ; the streets are dirty, narrow, and tortuous ; 
the houses smoke-dried and tottering; you see at once that Ning, 
Hia is a town of very great antiquity. Altliougli situated near the 
frontiers of Tartary, the commerce there is inconsiderable. 

After having gone nearly half up the central street, as we foimd 
we had still a league to go before we reached the other extremity, 
we lesolved to make a halt. We entered a large inn, where we 
were soon loUowed by three individuals who impudently demanded 
our passports. We saw at once that we had to defend our purses 
against tin-ec swindlers. " Who are you that dare to demand our 
passports?" "We are employed by the great tribunal: it is not 
lawful for strangers to pass tln-ough the town of Ning-Hia witliout 
a passport." Instead of replying we called the innkeeper and de- 
sired him to write upon a small piece of paper, his name and tliat of 
his inn. Our demand greatly sin-prised him. " Wliat is the good 
of this writing? what are you going to do with it? " " We shall soon 
have need of it. We are going to the great tribunal, to inform the 
Mandarin that three thieves have sought to rob us in your inn." At 
these words the three collectors of passports took to tlieir heels ; the 
landlord loaded them with im})i-ecations, and the mob, who were 
already assembled in great numbers, laughed heartily. This little 
adventure caused us to be treated with especial respect. Next morn- 
ing, ere day had dawned, we were awakened by a terrible noise, 
which arose all at once in the court-yard of the inn. Amid the 
coniiision of nimjerous voices that seemed in violent dispute, v/e 
distinguished the words, "Stinking Tartar — camel — tribunal." 
We hastily dressed oiu-selves, and proceeded to investigate the 
nature of this sudden uproar, with v/hich it struck us we had some- 
thing to do, and so it turned out ; our camels had devoured, in the 
course of the night, two cart-loads of osiers which were in the yard. 
The remnants still lay scattered about. The owners, strangers at 
the inn like ourselves, required to be paid the price of their goods, 
and their demand we considered perfectly just, only, we thought 
that the landlord alone was bound to repair the damage. Before 
going to rest, we had warned him of the danger in which the 
osiers lay. We had told him that he had better place them else- 
where, for that the camels would certainly break tljeir halters in 
order to get at them. The owners of the carts had joined with us 
in advishig their removal, but the landlord had laughed at our fears, 
and asserted that camels did not like osiers. When we had suffi- 
ciently explained the matter, the mob, the standing jury among the 
Chinese, decided that the whole loss should be made good by the 


landlord ; however, we had the generosity not to demand the price 
of tlie halters of our camels. 

Immediately after this impartial judgment had been pronounced, 
we departed on our way. The southern part of the town seemed 
to us in even a worse condition than that wliich we had passed 
through on the preceding evening. Several portions were altoge- 
ther pulled down and deserted ; the only living things to be seen 
were a few swine, raking up the rubbish. The inhabitants of this 
large city were in a state of utter misery. Tiie greater nimiber of 
them were covered with dirty rags. Their pale visages, haggard 
and thin, showed that they were often without the necessaries of 
life. Yet Ningliia was once a royal town, and, doubtless, opulent 
and flourisliing. 

In the tenth century, a prince of Tartar race, a native ofTou-Pa, 
at present under the dominion of the Si-Fan, having induced a few 
hordes to follow him, came, and formed, despite the Chinese, a small 
state not far from the banks of the Yellow Eiver. He chose for 
his capital, Hia-Tcheou, which afterwards came to be called Ning- 
Hia. It was IVom this town, that this new kingdom was called Hia. 
It was in a very flourishing state for more than two centuries ; but 
in 1227, it was involved in the common ruin, by the victories of 
Tchinggiskhan, the founder of the jMongol dynasty. At present, 
Ning-Hia is one of the towns of the first class in the province of 

On quitting Ning-Hai, you enter upon a magnificent road, 
almost throughout bordered by willows and jujube trees. At inter- 
vals, you find small inns, where the traveller xan rest and refresh 
himself at small expense. He can buy there tea, hard eggs, beans 
fried in oil, cakes, and fruit preserved in sugar or salt. 

This day's journey was one of absolute recreation. Our camels, 
which had never travelled except in the deserts of Tartary, seemed 
thoroughly sensible to the charms of civilization ; they turned their 
heads majestically right and left, observing, with manifest interest, 
all that presented itself on the way, men and things. They were 
not, however, so wholly absorbed in the investigations of the in- 
dustry and manners of China, as to withdraw their attention alto 
gether from its natural productions. The willows, especially, 
attracted their interest; and when at all within ^eir reach, they 
did not fail to pluck the tender branches, which they masticated 
with entire satisfaction. Sometimes, also, expanding their long 
necks, they would smell the various delicacies displayed over the 
inn doors, a circumstance which, of course, elicited vehement pro- 
tests from the innkeepers and other persons concerned. The 
Chinese were not less struck with our camels, than our camels were 


with China. The people collected from all directions to see the 
caravan pass, and ranged themselves on each side of the road ; 
taking care, however, not to approach too near the animals which 
excited their surprise, and whose strength they instinctively 

Towards the close of this day's march we arrived at Hia-Ho-Po, 
a large village without ramparts. We proceeded to dismount at 
the Hotel of the Five Felicities {Ou-Fou-Tien). We were occupied 
in giving forage to our beasts, when a horseman bearing a white 
button on his cap, appeared in the court of the inn. Without 
dismounting, or making the accustomed salutation, he proceeded 
to bawl for the landlord. "The great Mandarin" is on his way 
here," cried he, in curt and haughty tones ; " let everything be 
clean and well swept. Let these Tartars go and lodge elsewhere ; 
the great Mandarin will not have camels in the inn." Coming from 
the courier of a Mandarin, these insolent words did not surprise 
but they irritated us. We pretended not to hear them, and quietly 
pui'sued our occupation. The innkeeper, seeing that we paid no 
attention to the order that had been made, advanced towards us, 
and laid before us, with politeness mingled with embarrassment, 
the state of the case. " Go," we said to him firmly; " go tell this 
white button that you have received us into your inn, that we will 
remain there, and that Mandarins have no right to come and take 
the places of travellers, who are already lawfully established 
ny where." The innkeeper was spared the trouble of reporting 
our words to white button, for they had been pronounced in 
such a manner that he could hear them himself. He dismounted 
forthwith ; and addressing us directly, said, " The grand Man- 
darin wdll soon arrive ; he has a large retinue, and the inn 
is small ; besides, how would the horses venture to remain 
in this yard in presence of your camels ? " " A man in the 
suite of a Mandarin, and, moreover, adorned like you with a white 
button, should know how to express himself — first, politely, and next, 
justly. We have a right to remain here, and no one shall expel us; 
and our camels shall remain tied to the door of our room." " The 
grand Mandarin has ordered me to come and prepare apartments 
for him, at the Hotel of the Five Felicities." " Very well ; prei)ai*e 
them, but don't meddle with our things. If you cannot accommo- 
date yourselves here, reason suggests that you go and seek a lodging 
elsewhere." "And the great Mandarin ? " " Tell your Mandarin 
that there are three Lamas of the Western Heaven in this place, 
who are ready to retiu-n to Ning-Hia to discuss the matter with 
liimior before the tribunal, if it be necessary, at Peking; they 
know their way thither." White button mounted and disappeared. 


The liost came to us immediately, and begged us to be resolute. 
" If you remain here," said he to us, " I am sure to profit a little by 
you ; but if the Mandarin takes your place, his people will turn my 
inn upside down, will make us work all night, and then go away in 
the morning without paying a farthing. And besides that, if I 
were forced to send you away would not the Hotel of the Five 
Felicities lose its reputation? Who would afterwards enter an inn 
where they receive travellers only for the purpose of turning them 
out again?" Whilst the host was exhorting us to courage, the 
courier of the Mandarin reappeared ; he dismounted and made us 
a profound bow, which we returned with the best grace possible. 
" Sirs Lamas," said he, " I have ridden through Hia-Ho-Po ; there 
is no other convenient inn. Who says you are bound to cede to us 
your place ? To speak so were to talk inconsistently with reason ! 
Now, observe, Sirs Lamas ; we are all travellers : we are all men 
far distant from our families; cannot we consult together in a 
friendly manner and arrange the matter like brothers?" "No 
doubt," said we, " men ought always to deal together like brothers ; 
that is the true principle. Wlien we travel, we should live like 
travellers. When each gives way a little, all are, in the end, accom- 
modated." "Excellent saying! excellent saying! " cried the cou- 
rier; and thereupon the most profound bows recommenced on both 

After this brief introduction, which had perfectly reconciled both 
parties, we deliberated amicably how we should best arrange our 
common residence in the Hotel of the Five Felicities. It was agreed 
that we should keep the room in which we were already installed, 
and that we should tie up our camels in a corner of the court, so 
that they might not terrify the horses of the Mandarin. The courier 
was to dispose of the rest of the place as he pleased. We hastened 
to remove our camels from tlie door of our room and to place them 
as had been settled. Just after sun-set we heard the Mandarin's 
party approaching. The two folding doors of the great gate were 
solemnly opened, and a can-iage drawn by three mules advanced 
into the middle of the court of the inn, escorted by a numerous 
body of horsemen. In the carriage was seated a man about 
sixty years old, with grey mustachios and beard, and having his head 
covered with a red hood. This was the great Mandarin. On enter- 
ing, he scanned, with a quick and searching glance, the interior of 
the inn. Perceiving us, and remarking, above all, three camels at 
the end of the court, the muscles of his lean face were suddenly 
contracted. When all the horsemen had dismounted they invited 
him to descend from his vehicle. "What!" cried he in a dry, 
angry voice; "who are those Tartars? what are those camels? 


let the landlord be brought to me." On this unexpected summons 
the host took to his heels, and white button remained for an instant 
like one petrified: his face turned pale, then red, then ohve-colour. 
However, he made an effort, advanced to the carriage, put one knee 
to the gi-ound. then I'ose, and approaching the ear of his master, 
spoke to him for some time, in an undertone. The dialogue ended, 
the gi-eat Mandarin condescended to dismount, and after having 
saluted us with his hand in a protecting manner, he retired like a 
simple mortal to the small room vv'hich had been prepared for him. 

The triumph we had thus obtained in a countr}--, admission even 
to which was prohibited to us under pain of death ,^ gave us prodi- 
gious coui'age. These terrible Mandarins, who had formerly occa- 
sioned us such alarm, ceased to be terrible to us the instant that 
we dared to approach them, and to look at them closely. We saw 
men puffed up with pride and insolence, pitiless tyrants towards the 
weak, but dastardly in the extreme before men of energy. From 
this moment we found ourselves as much at our ease in China as 
anywhere else, and able to travel without fear, and with our heads 
erect in the open face of day. 

After two days' journey, we arrived at Teh on g- Wei, on the 
banks of the Yellow Eiver, a walled town of moderate size. Its 
cleanliness, its good condition, its air of comfort, contrasted singu- 
larly with the wretchedness and ugliness of Ning-Hia; and judging 
merely from its innumerable shops, all well stocked, and from the 
large population crowding its streets, we sliould pronounce Tchong- 
Wei to be a place of much commercial impoi tance ; yet the Chinese 
of this district have no notion of navigation, and not a boat is 
to be seen on the Yellow Eiver in this quarter — a circmnstance 
remarkable in itself, and confirmatory of the opinion that the 
inhabitants of this part of Kan-Sou are of Thibetian and Tartar 
origin ; for it is well known that the Chinese are everywhere passion- 
ately addicted to navigating streams and rivers. 

On quitting 'I'chong-Wei we passed the Great Wall, which is 
wholly composed of uncemented stones, j^laced one on top of the 
other; and we re-entered Tartary, for a few days, in the kingdom of 
the Alechan. More than once the Mongol Lamas had depicted in 
frightful colours the horrors of the Alechan mountains. We were 
now in a position to see with our own eyes that the reality exceeds 
all description of this frightful district. The Alechans are a long 
chain of mountains, wholly composed of moving sand, so fine, that 
when you touch it, it seems to flow through your linger like a liquid. 

* At this period there was no French embassy in China, and no treaty in 
favour of Europeans. All missionaries, theref^-e, v.'ho penetiaied into the interior, 
were, ipso facto, liable to be put to death. 


It were superfluous to add that, amid these gigantic accumulations 
of sand, you do not find anywhere the least trace of vegetation. 
The monotonous aspect of these immense sands is only relieved by 
the vestiges of a small insect, that, in its capricious and fantastical 
sports, describes a thousaud arabesques on the moving mass, which 
is so smooth and fine, tliat you can trace upon it the meanderings 
of an ant. In crossing these mountains, we experienced inex- 
pressible labour and dilficulty. At each step our camels sank up 
to the knees ; and it was only by leaps that they could advance. 
The horses underwent still greater difficulties, their hoofs having 
less purchase on the sand than the large feet of the camels. As for 
ourselves, forced to walk, we had to keep constant watch that we 
did not fall from the top of these mountains, which seemed to dis- 
appear under our feet, into the Yellow Hiver, whose waters flowed 
beneath us. Fortunately, the weather was calm. If the wind had 
blown, we should certainly have been swallowed up and buried 
alive in avalanches of sand. The Alechan mountains themselves 
appear to have been formed by the sand which the north wind 
incessantly sweeps before it from the Chamo, or Great Desert of 
Gobi. The Yellow Eiver an-ests these sandy inundations, and thus 
preserves the province of Kan-Sou from their destructive assaults. 
It is to the great quantity of sand that falls into it from the Alechan 
mountains that this river owes the yellow colour which has given 
to it its name Hoang-Ho (Yellow River). Above the Alechan 
mountains its waters are clear and limpid. 

By degrees, hills succeeded to mountains, the sand heaps im- 
perceptibly diminished, and towaixls the close of the day we arrived 
at the village of Ever- Flowing Waters (Tchang-Lieou-Chouy). 
Here we found, amidst those sand hills, an oasis of surpassing 
beauty. A hundred rills disporting through the streets, trees, little 
houses built of stone, and painted white or red, communicated to 
the spot an aspect highly picturesque. Weary as we were, we halted 
at Ever-ï'lowing Waters with inexpressible delight ; but the poetry 
of the thing vanished when we came to settle with our host. Not 
only provisions but forage came from Tchong-Wei, and the trans- 
port being very difficult, they were dear to a degree that altogether 
disconcerted our economical an-angements. For ourselves and 
our animals, we were obhged to disburse 1,600 sapeks, a matter 
of nearly seven shillings. Only for this circumstance we should 
perhaps have quitted with regret the charming village of Tchang- 
Lieou-Chouy; but there is always something which intervenes to 
aid man in detaching himself from the things of this world. 

On quitting Tchang-Lieou-Chouy, we took the road followed by 
the Chinese exiles on their way to Ili. The country is somewhat 


less dreadful than that whicli we liad tiavelled tliroiigli on the pre- 
ceding day, but it is still very dismal. Gravel had taken the place 
of sand, and witli tlie exception that it i)roduced a lew tufts of 
grass, hard and prickly, the soil was arid and barren. We reaohed, 
in due course, KaoTan-Dze, a village repulsive and hideous bevond 
all expression. It consists of a few miserable habitations, rudely 
constructed of black eaith, and all of them inns. Provisions are 
even more scarce there than at Ever-Flowiug "Waters, and corres- 
])ondingly dearer. Every thing lias to be brought from ïchoug- 
Wei, for the district ])roduces nothing, not even water. Wells have 
been sunk to a very great depth, but nothing has been found except 
hard, rocky, moistureless eaith. The inhabitants of Kao-Tan-Dze 
have to fetch their water a distance of more than twelve miles, and 
they Rccordint,']y charge travellers a monstrous price for every drop. 
A single bucket costs sixty sapeks. Had we attempted to water 
our camels, we should have had to lay out fifty fifties of sapeks; 
we were thereibre forced to be content with drinking ourselves, and 
giving a draught to our horses. As to the camels, they had to await 
better days and a less inhospitable soil, 

Kao-Tan-Dze, miserable and hideous as it is, has not even the 
advantage of that tranquillity and security which its poverty and its 
solitude miglit leasoiiably be supposed to give it. It is constantly 
ravaged by brigan<is, so that there is not a house in it which does 
not bear the marks of fire and devastation. At the first inn where 
we jH-esented ourselves, we were asked whether we desired to have 
our animals defended against robbers. This question threw us 
into utter amazement, and we requested further explanation of a 
point which struck us as so very singidar. We were informed that 
at Kao-Tan-Dze there are two sorts of inns: inns where they fight, 
and inns where they do not fight ; and that the prices at the former 
sort are four times gi-eater than those at the latter. This explana- 
tion gave us a general notion of the matter; but still we requested 
some details. "How!" said the people. " Don't you know that 
Kao-Tan-Dze is constantly attacked by brigands ? " " Yes, we 
know that." " If you lodge in an inn where they don't fight, any 
biigands that come will drive off your animals, for no one has 
undertaken to protect them. If, on the contrary, you lodge in an 
inn wljere they fight, you have a good chance of preserving your 
property, unless the brigands are the more numerous party, which 
sometimes happens." All this seemed to us very singular, and 
very chsagreeable. However, it was necessary to make up our 
minds on the subject. After grave refiection, we decided uj^on 
lodging in an inn where they fought. It occurred to us that the 
worthy innkeepers of Kao-Tan-Dze had an understanding with 


the brigands, liaA^ing for its result the spoUation of travellers, one 
way or the other, and that therefore it was better, ii}>on the whole, 
to pay the larger sum, by way of black-mail, than to lose our 
animals, whose loss would involve our own destruction. 

Upon entering the figliting inn, to which we had been directed, 
we found every thing about it on a war footing. The walls were 
regularly covered with lances, arrows, bows, and matchlocks. The 
presence of these weapons, however, by no means rendered us per- 
fectly satisfied as to our safety, and we resolved not to lie down at 
all, but to keep watch throughout the night. 

Kao-Tan-Dze, with its robber assailants and its pauper popula- 
tion, was to us an inexplicable place. We could not conceive how 
men should make up their minds to inhabit a detestably ugly 
country like this, sterile, waterless, remote from any other inhabited 
place, and desolated by the constant inroad of brigands. What could 
be their object? What possible advantage could be their induce- 
ment? We turned the matter over in all ways ; we framed all sorts 
of suppositions ; but we could achieve no likely solution of the 
problem. During the first watch of the night, we conversed with 
the innkeeper, who seemed a frank, open sort of man enough. He 
related to us infinite anecdotes of brigands, lull of battle, murder, 
and fire. " But," said we, " why don't you leave this detestable 
country?" " Oh," replied he, " we are not free men; the inhabi- 
tants of Kao-Tan-Dze are all exiles, who are only excused from 
going to Hi on the condition that we remain here for the ])in'pose 
of supplying with water the IMandarins and soldiers who jmss 
through the place, escorting exiles. We are bound to furnish 
water gratuitously to all the government officers who come to 
the village." When we found that we were among exiles, we 
were somewhat reassured, and began to think that, after all, these 
people were not in collusion with the brigands; for we learned that 
a petty Mandarin lived in the village to superintend the population. 
We conceived a hope that we might find some Christians at Kao- 
Tan-Dze, but the innkeeper informed us that there were none, for 
that all exiles on account of the religion of the Lord of Heaven, 
went on to Hi. 

After what the innkeeper had told us, we conceived that we 
might, without risk, take a brief repose; we accordingly threw our- 
selves on our goatskins, and slept soundly till daybreak, the favour 
of God preserving us from any visit on the part of the brigands. 

During the greater part of the da}^ we proceeded along the road 
to Hi, traversing with respect, with a degree of religious veneration, 
that path of exile so often sanctified by the footsteps of the con- 
fessors of the faith, and conversing, as we went, about those cou- 


rageous Christians, those strong souls, who, rather than renounce 
their reUgiou, had abandoned their families and their country, and 
gone to end tlieir days in unknown lands. Let us fei-vently pray 
that Providence may send missionaries, full of devotion, to bear the 
consolations of the faith amongst these our exiled brethren. 

The road to Hi brought us to the Great Wall, which we passed 
over without dismounting. This work of the Chinese nation, of 
which so much is said and so little known, merits brief mention 
here. It is known that the idea of raising walls as a fortification 
against the incursions of enemies, was not peculiar, in old times, 
to China : antiquity presents us with several examples of these 
labours elsewhere. Besides the works of this kind executed in 
Syria, Egypt, Media, and on the continent of Europe, there was, 
by order of the Emperor Septimus Severus, a great wall constructed 
in the northern part of Britain. No other nation, however, ever 
effected anything of the sort on so gi*and a scale as the Great Wall, 
commenced by Tsin-Chi-Hoang-Ti, a.d. 214. The Chinese call it 
Wan-U-Tchang-Tching (the Great Wall of ten thousand lis.) A pro- 
digious number of laboruers was employed irpon it, and the works 
of this gigantic enterprise continued for ten years. The Great 
Wall extends from the westernmost point of Kan- Sou to the EasteiTi 
Sea. The importance of tliis enormous construction has been 
variously estinrated by those who have written upon China, some 
of whom preposterously exaggerate its importance, while others 
laboriously seek to ridicule it ; the probability being, that tins diver- 
sity of opinion arises from each writer having judged the whole 
work by tlie particular specimen to which he had access. Mr. 
Barrow, who, in 1793, accompanied Lord jNlacartney to China, as 
historiographer to the British embassy, made this calculation : he 
supposed that there were in England and Scotland 1,800,000 houses, 
and estimating the masonry work of each to be 2,000 cubic feet, he 
propounded that the aggregate did not contain as much ma- 
terial as the Great Wall of China, which, in his opinion, was 
enough for the construction of a wall to go twice round the 
world. It is evident that Mr. BaiTow adopted, as the basis of Iris 
calculation, the Great Wall such as he saw it north of Peking, where 
the construction is really grand and imposing; but it is not to be 
supposed that this barrier, raised against the irruptions of the bar- 
barians, is, throughout its extent, equally high, wide, and solid. 
We have crossed it at fifteen different points, and on several occa- 
sions have travelled for whole days joarallel with it, and never once 
losing sight of it; and often, instead of the gr-eat double trureted 
rampart that exists towards Peking, we have found a mere low wall 
of brickwork, or even earth work. In some places, indeed, we have 


found this famous barrier reduced to its simplest expression, and 
composed merely of flint-stones roughly piled up. As to tlie foun- 
dation wall, described by Mr. Barrow, as consisting of large 
masses of free-stone cemented with mortar, we can only say that we 
have never discovered the slightest trace of any such work. It is 
indeed obvious that Tsin-Chi-Hoang-Ti, in the execution of this 
great undertaking, would fortify with especial care the vicinity of 
the capital, as being the point to which the Tartar hordes would 
first direct their aggi-essive steps. It is natural, farther, to conceive, 
that the Mandarins charged with the execution of the Emperor's 
plan, would, with especial conscientiousness, perfect the works which 
were more immediately under the Emperor's eye, and content them- 
selves with erecting a more or less nominal wall at remote points of 
the empire, particularly those where the Tartars were little to be 
feared, as, for example, the position of the Ortous and the Alechan 

The barrier of San-Yen-Tsin, which stands a few paces beyond 
the Avail, is noted for its great strictness towards the Tartars who 
seek to enter within the intramural empire. The village possesses 
only one inn, which is kept by the chief of the frontier guards. 
Upon entering the court-yard we found several groups of camels 
assembled there belonging to a great Tartar caravan that had 
arrived on the preceding evening. There was, however, plenty of 
room for us, the establishment being on a large scale. We had 
scarcely taken possession of our chamber than the passport 
question was started. The chief of the guards himself made an 
official demand for them. " We have none," replied we. At this 
answer his features beamed with satisfaction, and he declared that 
we could not p)roceed unless we paid a considerable sum. " How ! 
a passport or money? Know tluit we have travelled China from 
one end to the other, that we have l.)een to Peking, and that we 
have journeyed through Tartary, without anything in tli(^ shape of 
a passport, and without having paid a single sapek in lieu of a pass- 
port. You, who are a chief of guards, must know that Lamas are 
privileged to travel wherever they please without passports." 
" What words are these? Here is a caravan at this very moment 
in the house, and the two Lamas who are with it have both given 
me their passports like the rest of the party." " If what you say 
be true, the only conclusion is, that there are some Lamas who 
take passports with them and others who do not. We are in the 
number of those who do not." Finding at last that the dispute 
was becoming tedious, we employed a decisive course. " Well, 
come." said we, " we will give you the money you ask, but you 
shall give us in return a paper signed by yourself, in which you 


shall acknowledge that, before you would j^ermit us to pass, you 
exacted from us a sum of money instead of passports. We shall 
then address ourselves to the first Mandarin we meet, and ask him 
whether w^hat you liave done is consistent wdth tlie laws of the 
empire." The man at once gave up the point. " Oh," said he, 
" since you have heen to Peking, no doubt the Emperor has given 
you special privileges," and then he added, in a whisper, and 
smilingly, " Don't tell the Tartars here that I have let you pass 

It is really pitiable to observe these poor Mongols traveling in 
China ; eveiybody thinks himself entitled to fleece them, and every- 
body succeeds in doing so to a marvellous extent. In all directions 
they are encountered by impromptu custom-house officers, by per- 
sons who exact money from them on all sorts of pretences, for re- 
pairing roads, buildhig bridges, constructing pagodas, &c. &c. Fii'st, 
the despoilers profïer to render them great services, call them 
brothers and friends, and give them wholesale warnings against 
ill-designing persons who want to rob them. Should this method 
not effect an unloosening of the piu'se-strings, the rascals have 
recourse to intimidation, frighten them horribly with visions of 
Mandarins, laws, tribunals, prisons, punishments, threaten to take 
them up, and treat them, in short, just like mere children. The 
Mongols themselves materially aid the imposition by their total 
ignorance of the manners and customs of China. At an inn, 
instead of using the room offered to them, and putting their 
animals in the stables, they pitch their tent in the middle of the 
court-yard, plant stakes about it, and fasten their camels to these. 
Very frequently they are not permitted to indulge this fancy, and 
in this case they certainly enter the room allotted to them, and 
which they regard in the light of a prison ; but they proceed there 
in a manner truly ridiculous. They set up their trivet with their 
kettle upon it, in the middle of the room, and make a fire beneath 
with argols, of which they take care to have a store with them. It 
is to no purpose they are told that there is in tlie inn a large 
kitchen where they can cook their meals far more comfortably to 
themselves; nothing will dissuade them from their own kettle and 
their own aboriginal fire in the middle of the room. When night 
comes they unrol their hide-caqicts round the fire, and there lie 
down. They would not listen for a moment to the proposition of 
sleeping upon the beds or upon the kang they find in the room 
ready for their use. The Tartars of the caravan we found in the 
inn at San-Yen-Tsin were allowed to carry on their domestic 
matters in the open air. The simplicity of these poor children of 
the desert was so great that they seriously asked us whether the 


innkeeper would make them pay anytliing for the accommodation 
he afforded them. 

We continued on onr way tln-oiioh the province of Kan-Sou, 
proceeding to tlie south-west. Tlie country, intersected with 
streams and hills, is generally fine, and the people apparently well 
off . The great variety of its productions is owing partly to a tem- 
perate climate and a soil naturally fertile, but, above all, to tlie 
activity and skill of the agriculturists. The chief product of the 
district is wheat, of which the people make excellent loaves, like 
those of Europe. They sow scarcely any rice, procuring almost all 
the little they consume from the adjacent provinces. Their goats 
and sheep are of fine breed, and constitute, with bread, the principal 
food of the i^opulation. Numerous and inexhaustible mines of 
coal place fuel within everyone's reach. It appeared to us that in 
Kan-Sou anyone might live very comfortably at extremely small 

At two days' distance from tlie barrier of San-Yen-Tsin we were 
assailed by a hurricane which exposed us to very serious danger. 
It was about ten o'clock in the morning. We had just crossed a 
hill, and were entering upon a plain of vast extent, when, all of a 
sudden, a profound calm pervaded the atmosphere. There was not 
the slightest motion in the air, and yet the cold was intense. Insen- 
sibly, the sky assumed a dead-white colour ; but there was not a 
cloud to be seen. Soon, the wind began to blow from the west ; in 
a very short time it became so violent that our animals could 
scarcely proceed. All nature seemed to be in a state of dissolution. 
The sky, still cloudless, was covered with a red tint. The fury of 
the wind increased; it raised in the air enormous columns of dust, 
sand, and decayed vegetable matter, which it then dashed right and 
left, here, there, and everywhere. At length the wind blew so tremen- 
dously, and the atmosphere became so utterly disorganised, that, at 
midday, we could not distinguish the very animals upon which we 
were riding. We dismounted, for it was impossible to advance a 
single step, and after enveloping our faces in handkerchiefs in order 
that we might not be blinded with the dust, we sat down beside 
our animals. We had no notion where we were; our only idea 
was that the frame of the world was unloosening, and that the end 
of all things was close at hand. This lasted for more than an hoar. 
When the wind had somewhat mitigated, and we could see around 
us, we found that we were all separated from one another, and at 
considerable distances, for amid that frightful tempest, bawl as loud 
as we might, we could not hear each other's voices. So soon as we 
could at all w^alk we proceeded towards a farm at no great distance, 
but which we had not before perceived. The hurricane having 


thrown down tlie lOfreat gate of the court vre found no difficulty in 
enteriui?, and the house itself was opened to u-5 with almost equal 
facility ; for Providence had guided us in our distress to a family 
truly remarkable for its hosjùtality. 

Immediately upon our arrival, our hosts heated some water for 
us to wash with. We were in a frightful state ; from head to foot 
we were covered with dust which had saturated, so to speak, our 
clothes and almost our skins. Had such a stoim encountered us 
on the Alechan mountains, we should have been buried alive in 
the sand, and all trace of us lost for ever. 

When we found that the worst of the storm was over, and that 
the wind had subsided to occasional gusts, we joroposed to proceed, 
but our kind hosts would not hear of this; they said they would 
lodge us for the night, and that our animals should have plenty of 
food and water. ïlieir invitation was so sincere and so cordial, 
and we so greatly needed rest, that we readily availed ourselves of 
their offer. 

A very slight observation of the inhabitants of Kan-Sou, vnll 
satisfy one that they are not of purely Chinese origin. The Tartaro- 
Tlîibetian element is manifestly predominant amongst them ; and 
it displays itself w-ith especial emphasis in the character, manners, 
and language of the country people. You do not find amongst 
them the exaggerated politeness which distinguishes the Chinese; 
but, on the other hand, they are remarkable for their open-hearted- 
ness and hospitality. In their particular form of Chinese you hear 
an infinitude of expressions which belong to the Tartar and 
Thibetian tongues. The constniction of their phrases, instead of 
following the Chinese an-angement, always exhibits the inversions 
in use among the Mongols. Thus, for example, they don't say, 
with the Chinese, open the door, shut the window; but, the 
door open, the window shut. Another peculiarity is that milk, 
butter, curds, all insupportably odious to a Cliinese, are especially 
iavourite food w4th the inhabitants of Kan-Sou. But it is, above 
vii], their religious turn of mind which distinguishes them from the 
Clîinese, a people almost universally sceptical and iudifierent as to 
religious matters. In Kan-Sou there are numerous and flourishing 
Lamaseries in which reformed Buddhism is followed. The 
Chinese, indeed, have plenty of pagodas and idols of all sorts and 
sizes in their houses; but with them religion is limited to this 
external representation, whereas in Kan-Sou everyone prays often 
arid loug and fervently. Now prayer, as everyone knows, is that 
v.hicii distinguishes the religious from the iiTcligious man. 

Besides diiiering materially from the other peoples of China, 
the inhabitants of Kan-Sou differ materially amongst themselves, 



the Dcliiahours marking that sub-division, perliaps, more distinctly 
than any of the other tribes. They occupy the country commonly 
called San-TcJiouan (Three Valleys), the birth-place of our came- 
leer Samdadcbiemba, The Dchiahours possess all the knavery 
and cunning of the Chinese, without any of their courtesy, and with 
out their poli ?lied form of language, and they are accordingly feared 
and disliked by all their neighbours. When they consider them- 
selves in any way injured or insulted, they have immediate recourse 
to the dagger, by way of remedy. With them the man most to be 
honoured is he who has committed the greatest number of murders. 
They have a language of their own, a medley of Mongol, Chinese, and 
Eastern Tbibetian. According to their own account, they are of 
Tartar ojigin. If it be so, they may fairly claim to have preserved, 
in all its integrity, the ferocious and independent character of their 
ancestors, whereas the present occupiers of Mongolia have greatly 
modified and softened tbeir manners. 

Though subject to the Emperor of China, the Dchiahours are 
immediately governed b^ a sort of hereditary sovereign belonging 
to their tribe, and who bears the title of Tou-Sse. There are in 
Kan-Sou. and on the frontiers of the province of Sse-Tchouan, several 
other tribes, having their own special rulers and their own especial 
laws. All these tribes ai-e called Tou-Sse, to which each adds, by 
way of distinction, the family name of its chief or sovereign. 
Samdadcbiemba, for example, belonged to the Ki-Tou-Sse tribe of 
Dchiahours. Yang-Tou-Sse is the most celebrated and the most 
redoubtable of all these tribes, and for a long time exercised great 
influence at LhaSsa, the capital of Thibet, but this influence was 
destroyed in 1845, in consequence of an event which we shall 
relate by- and- by. 

After thoroughly resting from our fatigue, we departed eaily 
next morniug. Everywhere, on our way, we saw traces of the 
tempest, in trees uprooted and torn, houses unroofed, fields devas- 
tated aud almost entirely deprived of their surface soil. Befoiethe 
end of the day, we arrived at Tchoang-Loug, more commonly called 
Ping-Eaiig. an ordinary town, with a toleiable amount of trade, but 
in no way noticeable, whether for its beauty or for its deformity. We 
went to lodge at the Hotel of the Three Social delations (San-Kan- 
Tz>w), wboselandlordwasoné of the besthumouredand most amusing 
persons we bad hitherto met with. He was a thorough Chinese : to 
give us a jn'oof of his sagacity, he asked us, point blank, whether we 
were not Euglish ; and that we might thoroughly understand his 
question, he idded that he understood by Ing-Kie-Li, the sea-devils 
{Yany-Kouei-Dze) wiio were making war at Canton. " No, we are 
not English ; nor are we devils of anv sort, whetiier of sea or land." 


An idler who was standiDg by, inteiposed to prevent the ill effect 
of this awkward question. '' You," said he to the innliee})er, " you 
know nothing of physiognomy. How could you suppose that these 
people are Yang-Kouei-Dze? Don't you know that tliey have all 
blue eyes and red hair?" " You're right," returned the host, " I 
had not thought of that." "No," said we, "clearly you had not 
thought at all. Do you suppose that sea-monsters could live as we 
do, on land, and ride on horses? " " You're right, quite so ; the Ing- 
Kie-Li, they say, never venture to quit the sea, for when they're on 
land they tremble and die like fish out of water." We were favoured 
witii a good deal more information of the same class, respecting 
the manners and characters of the sea-devils, the up-shot of which, 
so far as we were concerned, was the full admission tlua we did not 
belong to the same race. 

A little before night, an immense bustle pervaded the inn. A 
Living Buddha had arrived, with a numerous train, on his return 
from a journey into Thibet, his native country, to the gi-and Lama- 
sery, of which for many years he had been the superior, and which 
was situated in the country of the Khalkhas, towards the Russian 
frontier. As he entered the inn, a multitude of zealous Buddhists, 
who had been awaiting him in the great coiut-yard, prostrated 
themselves before him, their faces to the gi'ound. The Grand 
Lama proceeded to the apartment which had been prepared for 
him, and night coming, the crowd withdrew. When the inn had 
become tolerably clear, this strange personage gave full play to his 
curiosity; he poked about all over the inn, going into every room, 
and asking eveiybody all sorts of questions, without sitting down 
or staying anywhere. As we expected, he favoured us also with a 
visit. When he entered our chamber, we were gi-avely seated on 
the kang; we stadiously abtained from rising at his entrance, and 
contented ourselves with welcoming him by a motion of our hands. 
He seemed rather surprised at this unceremonious reception, but 
not at all disconcerted, Standing in the middle of the room, he 
stared at each of us intently, one after the other. We, like himself, 
preserving entne silence all the while, exercised the privilege of 
Avhich he had set us the example, and examined him closely. He 
seemed about fifty years old; he was enveloped in a gieat robe of 
yellow taffeta, and he wore red velvet Thibetian boots, with remark- 
ably thick soles. He was of the middle height, and comfortably 
stout; his dark brown lace denoted extreme good nature, but there 
was in his eyes, when you attentively examined them, a strange, 
wild, haggard expression, that was very alarming. At length he 
addressed us in the Mongol tongue, which he spoke with great 
facility. In the first instance, the conversation was nothing more 


than tlie ordinary phrases exchanged between travellers, about one 
another's health, destination, horses, the weather, and so on. When 
we found him j)rolonging his visit, we invited him to sit down he- 
side us on the kang; he hesitated for a moment, conceiving, no doubt, 
that in his quality as Living Buddha, it did not become hini to 
place himself on a level with mere mortals like ourselves, Howevei-, 
as he had a great desire for a chat, he at last made up his mind to 
sit" down, and in fact he could not, without compromising his 
dignity, remain any longer standing while we sat. 

A Breviary that lay on a small table beside us, immediately 
attracted liis attention, and he asked permission to examine it. 
Upon our assenting, he took it up with both hands, admired the 
binding and the gilt edges, opened it and turned over the leaves, 
and then closing it again, raised it reverentially to liis forehead, 
saying, "It is your Book of Prayer: we should always honour and 
respect prayer." By-and-by he added, " Your religion and ours 
are like this," and so saying he put the knuckles of his two fore- 
fingers together. " Yes," said we, " you are right ; your creed and 
ours are in a state of hostility, and we do not conceal from you 
that the object of our journey and of our labours is to substitute 
our prayers for those which are used in your Lamaseries." " I 
know that," he replied, smilingly ; "I knew that long ago." He 
then took up the Breviary again, and asked us explanations of the 
engravings. He evinced no surprise at what we told him, only, 
when we had related to him the subject of the plate representing 
the ciucilixion, he shook his head compassionately, and raised his 
joined hands to his bead. After lie had examined all the prints, 
he took the Breviary once more in both hands, and raised it respect- 
fully to his forehead. He then rose, and having saluted us with 
great affability, withdrew, w^e escorting him to the door. 

Upon being left alone, we felt for a moment stupified as it were 
at this singidar visit. We tried to conceive what thoughts could 
have filled the mind of the Living Buddha as he sat there beside us, 
and what impression he had derived from the sketch we gave him 
of our holy religion. Now, it seemed to us that strange feelings 
must have arisen in his heart; and then again, we imagined that 
after all he had felt nothing whatevei-, but that, a mere ordinary 
person, he had mechanically availed himself of his position, without 
reflection, and without himself attaching any real importance to his 
pretended divinity. We became so interested in the point, that we 
determined to see this personage once more before we departed. As 
that departure was fixed for an early hour next morning, we went, 
accordingly, to return his visit before we slept. We found him in 
his apartment, seated on thick large cushions, covered with magni- 


ficent ti-er-skins; Urore liim stood, on a small lacquer tal.le, a 
silver tea-pot, and a steadte cup in a riclily-worked gold saucer. 
He was evidently in the last stage of ennui, and was correspond- 
ingly delighted to see us. For iear he should take it nito his head 
toletusremainstandmg,we proceeded, upon enternig the room, 
to seat ourselves beside him. His suite, who were assembled ma 
contiguous room, which opened into their principal's, were extremely 
shocked at this familiarily, and gave utterance to a murmur ot dis- 
approbation. ÏJie Buddha himself, however, who passed over the 
ciicumstance with a half-angry smile, rang a silver bell, and desired 
a young Lama, who obeyed the summons, to brmg us some^tea 
with milk. " I have often seen your countrymen," said he ; my 
Lamaseiy stands at no great distance from your native land; the 
Oros (Russians) often pass the frontier, but I have never known any 
of them before to advance so far as you." " We are not luissians, 
said we; " our country is a long way from Paissia. Ihis answer 
seemed to surprise the Buddha; he looked at us closely ^ior some 
time, and then said, "From what country come JO"; .^lien • ^^ e 

are from the Western Heaven." " Oh ! you are Pehng ^ of Dclwn- 
Ganna (Eastern Ganges), and your city is Galgata (Calcutta). 
The notions fof the Living Buddha, it is observable, though no 
exactly correct, were not altogether destitute of meaning; he could 
of course only class us among the peoples who were known to him 
and in supposing us first Russians and then English, he manifes ed 
an acquaintance with geographical terms, by no means contemptible 
under the circumstances. He would not be persuaded, l^owever, 
that we were not either Oros or Péling of Galgata. " But after all, 
said he, " what matters it from what country we come, since we are 
all brothers ? Only let me advise you, while you are m China, to 
be cautious not to tell everybody who you ai-e. The Chinese are 
a suspicious and ill-conditioned race, and they might do you a mis- 
chief " He then talked to us about Thibet, and the dreadful road 
thither that we should have to traverse. Judging Irom our ai)pear- 
ance, he said, he doubted very much whether we were strong enough 
for the undertaking. The words and the manner of the Grand 
Lama were perfectlv affable and kind, but there was a look m bis 
eyes to which we could not reconcile ourselves. We seemed to 
read there something infernal, fiend-like. But for tnis circumstance, 
which perhaps after all was mere fancy on our part, we should have 
esteemed our Grand Lama fiiend a most amiable personage. 

From Tchoang-Long, or Ping-Fang, we proceeded to Ho-Kiao- i , 

1 The Thibetians call the English in Hindustan, Péling. a word «igriifying 
.tran^r and equivalent to the Chinese y-jin, which the Europeans translate bar 
S. probably with the notion of flattering their self-love by the imphed contrast. 


or, as it is named on tlie maps, Tai-Touug-Foii. The latter is the 
ancient denomination of the plaoe, and is no longer in popular use. 
The road was, throughout, covered with oxen, asses, and small 
carts, all with loads of coal. We resolved to sojourn for a few 
days at Ho-Kiao-Y, for the pur^^ose of giving rest to our animals, 
whose strength had hecome almost exhausted: tlie horse and the 
mule, in particular, had tumours on their sides, occasioned hy the 
constant rubbing of the saddle, and it was essential to have these 
cured before we proceeded further. Having formed this project, 
our next business was to inspect all the inns in the place, for the 
purpiose of selecting as our abode that which presented the most 
favourable indications, and the Hotel of the Temperate Climates 
was ultimately honoured with our choice. 

Ever since our entry into the province of Kan-Sou, not a clay 
had passed in which Samdadchiemba had not enlarged upon the 
subject of the Three Valleys and the Dchiahours. Though there 
was no very immense amount of sentiment about him, he had a 
great desire to revisit his native place, and to see once more any 
members of his family who might happen to be surviving there. 
We could not do otherwise than aid so laudable a purpose; accord- 
ingly, when we were established in the Hotel of the Temperate 
Climates, we granted to our cameleer eight dajs' leave of absence, 
wherein to revisit his so long abandoned home. Eight days ap- 
peared to him fully sufficient for the purpose : two to go in, two to 
come back in, and four to be spent in the bosom of his family, 
relating to them all the marvels he had witnessed abroad. We 
allowed him the use of a camel, that he might appear among his 
friends with the greater distinction ; and five ounces of silver which 
we placed in his purse completed his recommendations to a favour- 
able reception. 

WJjile awaiting the return of our Dchiahour, we were exclu- 
sively occupied in taking care of our animals, and of ourselves. 
Every day we had to go into the town to buy our provisions, then 
to cook them, and, morning and evening, to water our cattle at 
some distance from the inn. The master of the house was one of 
those good-na.tured persons who, in their very eagerness to obhge, 
become troublesome; and whose amiability of intention scarcely 
induces one to pardon their importunity of attention. The worthy 
man was incessantly thrusting himself into our room, to give us 
advice how we ought to do this, that, and the other. After altering 
the position of everything in the chamber according to his fancy 
for the moment, he would go up to the furnace, take off the lid of 
the saucepan, dip his finger into the ragout, and licking it to see 
how the mess was going on, add salt or ginger, or other condiment. 


to the infinite annoyance of M. Hue, wlio was officially charged 
with the cooking department. At other times he would loudly 
protest that we knew nothing ahout making up a fire, that the coals 
ought to be laid so, and the wood so, and that a draught of air 
ough.t to be kept up in this or that direction; and thei-eupon he 
would take up the tongs and overturn our fire, to the immense dis- 
comfiture of M. G abet, who presided over that department. At 
night he appeared to consider himself especially indispensable, and 
would skip in every quarter of an hour to see that the lamp was 
burning properly, and that the wick was long enough, or short 
enough, and what not. At times he had really the air of asking 
us how it was possible that we had contrived to live without him, 
the one of us up to thirty-two years of age, the other up to thirty- 
seven. However, among the exuberance of attentions with which 
he bored us, there was one which we readily accepted ; it was in 
the matter of warming our beds, the process of which was so sin- 
gular, so peculiar, that we had never had the opportunity elsewhere 
of observing it. 

The kang, a species of furnace on which you lie, is not in 
Kan-Sou constructed altogether of brickwork, as is the case in 
Northern China, but the upper flooring consists of moveable planks, 
placed closely beside one another. When they want to heat the 
kang for sleeping purposes, they remove the planks, and strew 
the interior of the kang with horse-dung, quite dry and pulverised. 
Over this combustible they throw some lighted cinders, and then 
replace the planks ; the fire immediately communicates itself to the 
dung, which, once lighted, continues to smoulder; the heat and the 
smoke, having no exit, soon warm the planks, and this produces a 
tepid temperature which, in consequence of the slow combustion 
of the material, prevails throughout the night. The talent of the 
kang-heater consists in putting neither too much nor too little dung, 
in strewing it properly, and in so an-anging the cinders that com- 
bustion shall commence at different points in the same moment of 
time, in order that all the planks may equally benefit by the warmth. 
Ashamed to have our bed warmed for us like children, we one night 
essayed to perform this service for ourselves, but the result was by 
no means happy, for while one of us was nearly broiled to death, 
the other trembled with cold all night long ; the fact being, that 
o\ving to our want of skill, the fire had actually caught the planks 
on one side of the kang, while on the other the fuel had not lighted 
at all. The host of the Hotel of the Temperate Climates was 
naturally disgusted at the mischance, and in order to prevent its 
recurrence, he locked the closing plank of the furnace, and himself 
came every time to light it. 


Our various domestic occupations, and the recitation of our 
Breviary, passed away the time very smoothly at Ho-Kiao-Y. On 
the eighth day, as had been agreed, Samdadchiemba returned, 
but not alone ; he was accompanied by a lad, whose features bespoke 
him a brother of our cameleer, and as such Samdadchiemba pre- 
sented him to us. Our first interview was very brief, for the two 
Dchiahours had scarcely presented themselves before they disap- 
peared. We imagined, at first, that tliey were gone to pay their 
respects to tlie host, but it was not so, for they almost immediately 
re-appeared with somewhat more solemnity of mnnner than before. 
Samdadchiemba marched in first : " Babdcho," said he to his 
brother, " prostrate thyself before our masters, and present to them 
the oflterings of our poor family." The younger Dchiahour made 
us three salutations in the Oriental fashion, and then laid before 
us two great dishes, one of them full of fine nuts, the other laden 
with three large loaves, in form resembling those made in France. 
To afford Samdadchiemba the most practical proof in our power 
that we were sensible to his attention, we forthwith applied our- 
selves to one of the loaves, which, with some of the nuts, consti- 
tuted quite a delicious repast, for never since our departure from 
France had we tasted such e^Kcellent bread. 

While engaged upon our banquet, we observed that the costume 
of Samdadchiemba was reduced to its simplest expression; that 
whereas he had gone decently attired, he had come back half- 
covered with a few rags. We asked for an explanation of this 
change, whereupon he gave us an account of the miserable con- 
dition in which he had found his family. The father had been 
dead for some time; his aged mother had become blind, so that 
she had not enjoyed the happiness of seeing him. He had two 
brothers, the one a mere child, tlie other the young man whom he 
had brought with him, and who, the sole su])po]-t of the family, 
devoted liis time to the cultivation of a small field which still 
belonged to them, and to the tending the flocks of other people 
for hire. This narrative at once explained what Samdadchiemba 
had done with his clothes; he had given them all to his poor old 
mother, without even excepting his travelling cloak. We thought 
it our duty to propose that he should remain, and devote himself to 
the assistance of his wretched family; but he did not at all adopt 
the suggestion. " What," said he, " (;ould I have the cruelty to 
do such a tiling as that ! Could I ever think of going to devour 
the little substance that remains to them? They can scarcely sub- 
sist themselves : how could they j)ossibly support me; for I myself 
have no means of making a livelihood there — I cannot labour at 
the soil, and there is no other way in which I could help them." 



We considered tliis resolution neither good nor great; but knowing, 
as we did, the character of Samdadchiemha, it in no degree sur- 
prised us. We did not insist upon liis remaining, for we were even 
better convinced than he himself was. that lie could he of no sort 
of seivice to his family. We did all we could ourselves to aid these 
poor people, by giving Samdadchiemba's brother as large an alms 
as we could spare; and we then proceeded to the p-eparations for 
our departin-e. 

Dming these eight days of repose, the condition of our animals 
had so im])roved as to enable us to venture upon the difficult road 
we had to travel se. The next day after quitting Ho-Kiao-Y, we 
began the ascent of the high mountain called Piug-Keou, tlie 
terribly rugged paths of which interposed almost insurmountable 
dilficulties in the vray of our camels. On the ascent, we were 
obliged to be constantly calling out, at the pitch of our voices, in 
order to warn any muleteers wlio might be coming do^^^l the road, 
which was so narrow and dangerous that two animals could not 
pass each other abreast. Our cries were to enable any persons 
coming the other way to lead their mules aside, so that they might 
not take alarm at the sight of our camels, and dash over the preci- 
pice. We began the ascent of this mountain before daybreak, and 
yet it was noon before we reached its summit. There we found a 
little inn, where, under the denomination of tea, they sold a de- 
coction of burned beans. We stopped at this jilace for a brief 
period to take a repast, which hunger rendered very succulent and 
savouiy, of some nuts and a slice of the famous bread which the 
Dchiahour had brought us, and which we expended with the 
utmost parsimony. A draught of cold water should have been, 
according to our previous plan, the complement of our feast; but 
the only water attainable on this mountain was affected with an 
insupportable stench. We were fain, therefore, to have recourse 
to the decoction of baked beans, a dreadfully insipid fluid, but for 
which, notwithstanding, we were charged extortionately. 

The cold was by no means so severe as we had expected from 
the season of the year and the great elevation of the mountain. 
In the afternoon, indeed, the weather was quite mild ; by-and-by, 
the sky was overcast, and snow fell. As we were obliged to 
descend the mountain on foot, we soon got absolutely hot, in the 
peq^etual struggle, of a very laborious kind, to keep from rolling 
down the slippeiy path. One of our- camels fell twice, but happily 
in each instance he was stayed by a rock from tumbling over the 
mountain's side. 

Having placed behind us the formidable Ping-Keou, we took 
up our lodging in the village of the Old Duck {Lao-Ya-Fou). Here 


we found a system of heating in operation different from that of 
Ho-Kiao-Y. The kangs here are ^yarmed, not with dried horse- 
dung, but with coal-dust, reduced to paste, and then formed into 
bricks ; turf is also used for the purpose. We had hitherto imagined 
that knitting was unknown in China; the village of the Old Duck 
removed this misconception from our minds, and enabled us, 
indeed, to remove it from the minds of the Chinese themselves in 
other parts of the empire. We found here in every street men, 
not women, occupied in this species of industry. ïlieir productions 
are wholly without taste or delicacy of execution ; they merely knit 
coarse cotton into shapeless stocldngs, like sacks, or sometimes 
gloves, without any separation for the fingers, and merely a place 
for the thumb, the knitting needles being small canes of bamboo. 
It was for us a singular spectacle to see parties of moustachiod men 
sitting before the door of their houses in the sun, knitting, sewing, 
and chattering like so many female gossips; it looked quite like a 
burlesque upon the manners of Europe. 

In-om Lao-Ya-Pou to Si-Ning-Fou was five days march; on the 
second day we passed through Ning-Pey-Hien, a town of the third 
order. Outside the western gate, we stopped at an inn to take our 
morning meal ; a great many travellers were already assembled in 
the large kitchen, occupying the tables which were ranged along 
the walls ; in the centre of the room were several furnaces, where 
the innkeeper, his wife, several children, and some servants were 
actively preparing the dishes required by the guests. While every 
body seemed occupied, either in thepreparation or in the consumption 
of victuals, a loud cry was heard. It was the hostess, thus express- 
ing the pain occasioned by a knock on her head, which the husband 
had administered with a shovel. At the cry, all the travellers looked 
in the direction whence it proceeded; the woman retreated, with 
vehement vociferations, to a corner of the kitchen; the innkeeper 
explained to the company that he had been compelled to correct 
his wife for insolence, insubordinatiou, and an indifference to the 
interests of the establishment, which eminently compromised its 
prosperity. Before he had finished his version of the story, the 
wife, from her retreat in the corner, commenced her's; she informed 
the company that her husband was an idle vagabond, who passed 
his time in drinking and smoking, expending the result of her la- 
bours for a wliole month in a few days of brandy and tobacco. 
During this extempore performance, the audience remained imper- 
turbably calm, giving not the smallest indication of approbation 
or disapprobation. At length the wife issued from her retreat, and 
advanced with a sort of challenging air to the "husband: "Since 
I am a wicked woman," cried she, ".you must kill me. Come, kill 


mc!" and so saying, she drew herself up with a gesture of vast 
dramatic dignity immediately in front of the husband. The latter 
did not adopt the suggestion to kill her, hut he gave her a formid- 
able box on the ear, which sent her back, screaming at tlie pitch of 
her voice, into her previous comer. Hereupon, the audience burst 
into loud laughter; but the affair, which seemed to them so diverting, 
soon took a very serious turn. After the most tenible abuse on the 
one hand, and the most awful threats on the other, the innkeeper at 
length drew his girdle tight about his waist, and twisted his tress of 
hair about his head, in token of some decided proceeding. " Since 
you will have me kill you," cried he, " I will kill you !" and so 
saying, he took from the fiu'uace a pair of long iron tongs, and 
rushed furiously upon his wife. Everybody at once rose and shouted ; 
the neighbours ran in, and all present endeavoured to separate the 
combatants, but they did not effect the object until the woman's 
face was covered with blood, and her hair was all down about her 
shoulders. Then a man of ripe years, who seemed to exercise some 
authority in the house, gravely pronounced these words by way of 
epilogue: "How! what!" said he, "husband and wife fighting 
thus ! and in presence of their children, in j)resence of a crowd of 
travellers!" These words, repeated three or four times, in a tone 
which expressed at once indignation and authority, had a marvellous 
effect. Almost immediately afterwards the guests resumed their 
dinner, the hostess fried cakes in nut-oil, and the host silently 
smoked his pipe. 

T^Tien we were about to depart, the innkeeper, in summing up 
our account, coolly inserted fifty sapeks for the animals which we 
had tied up in the court-yard during our meal. He had evidently 
an idea of making us pay eji Tartare. Samdadchiemba was indig- 
nant. " Do you think," asked he, " that we Dchiahours don't 
know the rules of inns ? Where did you ever hear of making 
people pay for fastening their animals to a jieg in the wall? Tell 
me, master publican, how many sapeks are you going to charge us 
for the comedy we've just witnessed of the innkeeper and his wife?" 
The burst of laughter on the part of the bystanders which liailed 
this sarcasm carried the day triumphantly for Samdadchiemba, 
and we departed without paying anything beyond our personal 

The road thence to Si-Xing-Fou, generally well made and well 
kept, meanders through a fertile and well cultivated country, pic- 
turesquely diversified by trees, hills, and numerous streams. 
Tobacco is the staple of the district. W'e saw on our way several 
water-mills, remarkable for their simplicity, as is the case with all 
Chinese works. In these mills, the upper story is stationary. 


while the lower is turned hy means of a single wheel, kept in 
motion hy the current. To work these mills, though they are 
frequently of large proportions, a very small stream suffices, as the 
stream plays upon the wheel in the form of a cascade, at least 
twenty feet higli. 

On the day hefore arriving at Si-Ning-Fou, we passed over a 
road extremely laborious, and so dangerously rugged that it sug- 
gested frequent recommendations of ourselves to the protection of 
the Divine Providence. Our course was amid enormous rocks, 
beside a deep, fierce cuiTent, the tumultuous waves of which roared 
beneath us. There was the gulf perpetually yawning to swallow us 
up, should we make but one false step; we trembled, above all, for 
our camels, awkward and lumbering as they were, whenever they 
had to pass over an uneven road. At length, thanks to the good- 
ness of God, we aiTived without accident at Si-Ning. The town 
is of very large extent, but its populr^tion is limited, and itself, 
in several parts, is falling into absolute decay. The history of the 
matter is, that its commerce has been in great measure intercepted 
by Tang-KeoLi-Eul, a small town on the banks of the Keou-Ho, on 
the frontier which separates Kan-Sou from Koukou-Noor. 

It is the custom, we may say the rule, at Si-Ning-Fou, not to 
receive strangers, such as the Tartars, Thibetians, and others, into 
the inns, but to relegate them to establishments called Houses of 
Eepose [Sie-Kia), into which no other travellers are admitted. We 
proceeded accordingly to one of these Houses of Repose, where we 
were exceedingly well entertained. The Sie-Kia difler from other 
inns in this important paiticular, that the guests are boarded, 
lodged, and served there gratuitously. Commerce being the lead- 
ing object of travellers hither, the chiefs of the Sie-Kia indemnify 
themselves for their outlay by a recognised per centage upon all 
the goods which their guests buy or sell. 'J"he persons who keep 
these Houses of Eepose have first to procure a license from the 
authorities of the town, for which they pay a certain sum, greater 
or less, accoixling to the character of the commercial men who are 
expected to frequent the house. In outward show, the guests are 
well-treated, but still they are quite at the mercy ot the landlords, 
who, having an understanding with the traders of the town, manage 
to make money of both parties. 

When we, indeed, departed from Si-Ning-Fou, the Sie-Kia with 
Avhom we had lodged had made nothing by us in the ordinary way, 
for we had neither bought nor sold anything. However, as it 
would have been preposterous and unjust on our part to have lived 
thus at the expense of our neighbours, Ave paid the host of the 
House of Eepose for what we had had, at the ordinary tavern rate. 



After crossmg several torrents, as(;endmg many rocky hills, 
and twice passing tlie Great Wall, we arrived at Tang-Keou- 
Eul. It was now January, and nearly four montlis had elapsed 
since our departure from the Valley of Dark Waters. Tang- 
Keou-Eul is a small town, but veiy populous, very animated, 
and very full of business. It is a regular tower of Babel, 
wherein you find collected Eastern Thibetians, Hoiing-Mao-Eul 
(Long-haired Folk), Elents, Kolos, Chinese, Tartars from the Blue 
Sea, and Mussulmans, descended from the ancient migrations from 
Turkestan. Everything in the town bears the imjiress of violence, 
îsoliody walks the streets without a great sabre at his side, and 
^Ylthout atiëcting, at least, a fierce determination to use it on the 
shortest notice. Not an hour passes without some street combat. 

if^^ 'J. 


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